One month and 15 days have passed since the devastating earthquake struck the southern part of Haiti where NOVA Hope for Haiti’s clinics are located. Since that day, there have been a series of ongoing aftershocks including a 4.2 magnitude quake September 19th where the epicenter was just 20 miles from Cavaillon, site of our main clinic. The country also endured a tropical storm adding to the suffering. Tens of thousands of peoples’ lives continue to be drastically affected by these tragic events. Thousands of people, including members of NOVA’s staff, are sleeping outdoors because of destroyed or severely damaged homes. Many schools and churches have also been destroyed so these places of refuge in difficult times are also not able to shelter people. NOVA’s own headquarters sustained serious damage making the building unusable until is it repaired. These are challenging days, but we are committed to rebuilding, committed to continuing to provide medical care, and committed to helping our community get back on its feet in whatever way we can. The road will be long and difficult, but now more than ever, NOVA will help our community get through this difficult time.
NOVA’s executive team is a dedicated group of volunteers who have been working closely with our staff to begin the process of rebuilding. They are supported by our committed board members and, more importantly, our donors who have stepped up to the occasion and helped us with much needed additional funds to meet these serious challenges. Without your financial support we would not be able to intercede. We are deeply grateful for the assistance.
Here is an update of what has been going on since August:
Medical Care continues:
Almost every member of NOVA’s staff suffered damage to their own homes, ranging from minor damage to complete loss. Not one member of our local staff isn’t facing their own challenges at home and with their family. Despite their personal challenges, they are all back and providing the best medical care possible given the difficult circumstances. Thankfully NOVA’s clinic in Boileau did not sustain as much damage, so most of our operations have been moved there. In Cavaillon main clinic the staff also continues to see patients. The pharmacy has been moved to the garage for safe, secure, and easy access to medications and supplies. Our doctors and nurses are seeing patients outside because the building has been deemed too dangerous to enter. Our security staff have also been going above and beyond the call of duty sleeping on the property either outdoors or in the garage to make sure our property is secure.
We are very proud of the perseverance and commitment our staff has displayed to provide medical care to their community
Temporary immediate assistance:
NOVA has given each of our staff members initial emergency assistance to help them deal with the immediate challenges that their families are facing. We have also purchased tarps to help keep people and property protected since so many people are basically living outdoors. We also were able to purchase some tents for our staff who are living outdoors, especially our security guards who are sleeping on the property with their families because their homes collapsed.
We have also been able to procure a donation of much needed baby formula which was distributed to the local families at our clinic.
Long term assistance:
Because NOVA is a permanent part of our community, we are committed to using the funds our donors have made available for long-term and more permanent assistance. Often NGO’s and other charities come into disaster situations and provide immediate relief in the form of food, water, clothing, etc. These are vitally needed and provided by larger organizations with supply and distribution channels. These organizations, however, are temporary as the people face the challenges of rebuilding after events like this. NOVA is much better suited to do this long-term work because we are part of the community. After hurricane Matthew NOVA worked with the mayor of Cavaillon and donated 15,000 plantain trees to people in the community. These trees did not provide immediate food relief, but they provided food months later when the temporary support left and they continue to provide food to the people who planted them. NOVA also rebuilt seven homes in Cavaillon for people who lost them completely in that storm. These homes housed 54 people because Haitians in the countryside often live in multi-generational homes. (See: https://www.novahope.org/hurricane-matthew-relief-update/). This is the type of long-term permanent assistance we can provide and that we plan to provide in the aftermath of this earthquake. NOVA’s executive committee is meeting with the staff, the mayor, and other community members to figure out the best way to use the funds we have available to help people rebuild in a permanent way. This kind of assistance does not happen immediately, but it makes a major and lasting impact. We will keep everyone posted on our efforts.
Rebuilding NOVA’s headquarters
The biggest challenge NOVA is facing today is rebuilding our own facility in Cavaillon. Initial estimates provided to NOVA by a builder who inspected the building estimate reconstruction will be about $200,000. Thankfully we have insurance but NOVA will have significant costs because of deductibles and co-insurance. Our insurance only covers the ‘brick and mortar’ construction and we lost a significant portion of our medical equipment, supplies and furniture. Rebuilding will take many months and we are looking into how best to manage this project and oversee it so that the work is done correctly, safely, and expediently.
What makes this earthquake so challenging for NOVA is that, like everyone in our community around us, our own home and safe place has been severely damaged. In 2017, Hurricane Matthew devastated the community but NOVA’s clinic was relatively undamaged except for the roof. We were able to return to normal operations within days and NOVA could assist our community from a safe and secure place. Our building provided refuge to many of our neighbors for weeks following the hurricane.
While our building may be unstable and weakened, our volunteers, donors, and staff are keeping NOVA strong. It will take time, effort and patience, but we will rebuild and help our community return to their normal lives with the generous support of our volunteers and donors.