The road from the Port-au-Prince airport to the women’s center established by our sister organization, KOFAVIV, is lined by a sea of blue and gray tents, tarps, and cloth that provide the only shelter thousands of displaced families have. In recent weeks, a deadly cholera outbreak has reached the displacement camps, further threatening residents’ health and security.
Our sister organization, KOFAVIV, immediately mobilized to fight the epidemic. As human rights defenders working in displacement camps, their members are uniquely positioned to assess and respond to the needs of women and families living in dozens of camps.
When I recently visited Haiti with Natalia Caruso, MADRE Program Director, we saw KOFAVIV draw on its members’ disaster management expertise to distribute life-saving cholera prevention and treatment kits. Within hours of receiving financial support from MADRE, KOFAVIV leaders had transformed it into small towers of salt, Clorox bleach, water jugs, and dark yellow soap that filled the office patio. Late into the night, they ran a makeshift assembly line, taking inventory and dividing the materials into small plastic grocery bags for distribution.
Two days later, over one hundred women crowded into the sprawling courtyard outside KOFAVIV’s center. Babies dozed in the early afternoon heat. Between trainings on cholera prevention and treatment, KOFAVIV members led the women in song. At the end of the meeting, KOFAVIV leaders distributed the cholera kits, making sure they were given to women from each of the camps represented.
KOFAVIV’s ability to turn a small donation into an event that educated women, welcomed new participants, and provided life-saving materials to displaced families is a testament to the organization’s expertise in both human rights advocacy and disaster management. MADRE is committed to continuing support for their courageous and tireless efforts to ensure that every Haitian woman and girl may life in security and free from violence.
[Ed. Note: This blog entry is the first by Nora Smiley, our new staff member who has come on board to help manage our work with our partners in Haiti. Welcome, Nora!]