Whatif LogoWhatif banner

Hurricane Mathew Relief Efforts

Posted Jan 18th, 2017

Hurricane Mathew Relief

The What If? Foundation received more than $90,000 in contributions for Hurricane Mathew relief efforts. The funds were distributed October through December 2016 to support a food program and mobile clinics in the south of Haiti. The response team traveled to different communities to help give a boost to residents during this incredibly difficult time.

Hurricane Mathew was a category 4 storm that landed in Haiti on October 4, 2016. The impact of the storm was felt most dramatically in the southwest of the country where the majority of the population lives in tin roof shacks and many neighborhoods are situated at sea level. Two of the biggest cities hit were Les Cayes and Jeremie. Some estimates say that Jeremie lost more than 80% of its housing as a result of the storm, and several hundred lives were lost. (There has been some dispute over the official numbers of dead.)

Les Cayes is a seaside town, which endured extreme winds, large wave surges from the ocean and terrible flooding after the storm. Communities situated next to the beach were decimated. Most houses are made of cement but the roofs are tin and were torn off by the high winds. There was so much rain after the hurricane that families had to move to shelters in schools and government buildings, and many lost all of the contents of their homes and have no possessions left.

Lavarice Gaudin, Na Rive’s Program Director, has an extensive network throughout the country, especially in the south. His strong leadership skills created an amazing team of volunteers to help those most in need. Since the need was so great, they focused their efforts on the Les Cayes Region, which included the towns of Les Cayes, Camp Perrin, Cavaillon and Torbek.

The roads were impassable immediately following the storm. But, thankfully, after about 10 days, our partners were able to make their way to Les Cayes where they saw the damage and responded by creating a central kitchen to prepare hot meals that were distributed to different communities. The food was purchased in Port-au-Prince from wholesale distributors that have been supplying food to the regular Na Rive/What If? Foundation food program for more than 16 years, and transported by truck to Les Cayes, where there was a team preparing and deliver the meals to designated communities.

From October to December 2016 more, than 5,263 meals were provided to residents in the Les Cayes region.

In addition to food, it was clear that there were urgent medical needs. Lavarice worked with Dr. Piard, who created a team of medical professionals to staff a mobile medical clinic. Dr. Piard was educated in Canada and moved back to Haiti several years ago. He currently has a thriving medical practice in Port-au-Prince. He led a medical team on weekly trips to the south to attend to the sick and injured. Each mobile clinic took place at a community center or shelter and lasted between 3 and 5 hours, or until the medicine ran out. After the clinic, the meals would be distributed to the community.

During the months of October, November and December, the team held 10 mobile clinics and treated 1, 232 people.

People were so grateful to have an opportunity to see a doctor and receive medical assistance. Most of the ailments that doctors saw were dehydration, cholera, flu and infections. But what became clear is that the majority of people treated have no access to primary health care. The hurricane brought the team to respond to the urgent situation, but discovered many ailments that had nothing to do with the after effects of the storm. These illnesses are perpetuated by poverty and the lack of access to primary health care. Although our emergency support response to the hurricane is complete, the medical team is still looking for ways to continue to support these underserved communities.

We are so deeply grateful for the generosity of our donors which made the emergency food program and mobile medical clinic possible. You have made such a meaningful difference in the lives of hundreds of people during this crisis.