In Haiti’s rural areas, a shortage of health care centers and doctors are a fact of life. CRS is working with a network of community volunteers to provide better health services for women and young children.
“I look at all the children present, and to see this energetic group of them, the future seems more fruitful.”
- Louisma Toussaint, a healthcare volunteer who has been providing basic check ups to mothers and children in her community in rural Haiti
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Catholic social teaching focus:
Call to Family, Community and Participation
All of us are social by nature and are called to live in community with others—our full human potential isn’t realized in solitude, but in community with others. How we organize our families, societies and communities directly affects our ability to achieve our full human potential. We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.
Around the seaport town of Les Cayes, Haiti, there are few doctors or hospitals. CRS is working with volunteers like Louisma Toussaint to set up community healthcare centers. These volunteers help people stay healthy, and if they do get sick, to get good medical care.
CRS trained Louisma and her fellow volunteers to give basic check-ups and medical help. CRS also helped set up a community “rally post”, where families meet with Louisma and the other volunteers. Mothers bring their babies to the rally post for check-ups each month. Louisma weighs and measures the babies to make sure they are healthy and growing, and gives basic vaccines and treatment. When someone is ill or needs to see a doctor, they come to the rally post and Louisma helps them get to the closest hospital. When they come home from the hospital, Louisma checks on them to make sure they are doing well.
A “Mother’s Club” meets at the rally post each month to share stories and get advice from Louisma about keeping themselves and their children healthy. They also have a community garden where they grow vegetables and fruits. Mothers share recipes and use vegetables from the garden to make healthy, balanced meals at home.
Lousima and her fellow volunteers are making a big difference. Since Louisma began as a volunteer, the number of children who suffer from malnutrition in her community has dropped by nearly half. Louisma has noticed that children in her community are healthier. “I look at all the children present, and to see this energetic group of them, the future seems more fruitful.”
Read more stories from Haiti.
Facts to Consider
- Haiti is located in the Caribbean Sea on the island of Hispaniola. Haiti is the western side of the island, and the Dominican Republic is the eastern side.
- Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, with 80 percent of Haitians living on less than two dollars per day.
- Poor living conditions in Haiti were worsened by a 7.0-magnitude earthquake in January, 2010. Nearly 2 million Haitians were displaced, leaving many without food or clean water. CRS and local partners in Haiti help those who are already sick by ensuring hospitals have properly trained staff and equipment. But they also work to prevent disease by training community volunteers who can provide basic health services and advice.
- The healthcare program in Les Cayes is now run almost entirely by Haitian resident volunteers like Louisma. Volunteers have contributed more than 175,000 hours per year and have reached out to more than 29,000 children and 12,000 mothers. In target communities, the malnutrition rate has decreased from 14 percent to 8 percent