A week into her deployment with Canadian Red Cross (CRC) to earthquake-stricken Haiti, a family nurse practitioner from the Chilcotin said it is startling to have such a natural, tropical beauty juxtaposed with such devastating destruction.
“Looking in one direction, you see a turquoise ocean framed by beautiful flowering trees and in the other, piles of rubble and the crowded shelters of displaced people,” Patrice Gordon told Black Press Media.
Gordon is part of a CRC team of 25 people from Finland and Canada working closely with the Haitian Red Cross and the Ministry of Health.
They will be focusing on providing health services in the city of Les Cayes in southern Haiti near the epicentre, while other Red Cross teams from around the world are working to address many other important needs to provide shelter, basic items such as mosquito nets, jerry cans, kitchen items and shelter kits to the people, facilitate access to safe water and provide sanitation and hygiene.
Teams from the IFRC and Haitian Red Cross were recently in Camp Perrin distributing much needed goods to the community, after the 14 August earthquake.
Haiti needs more support 💗. pic.twitter.com/VMOe2Wrydv
— IFRC Americas (@IFRC_es) September 6, 2021
To date the death toll from the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that occurred on Aug. 14, 2021, has risen to more than 2,200.
A United Nations news bulletin dated Sept. 4, 2021, noted some 4.4 million people, nearly 40 per cent of the population, are facing acute food insecurity, according to the UN humanitarian affairs agency.
“There are so many needs,” Gordon said. “And it’s so important to ensure that all of our humanitarian services are accessible to the most vulnerable, as well — those with disabilities, elderly, women and children.”
There is always concern about infectious and vector-borne disease like cholera and malaria after a disaster because of water contamination, crowding in shelters, poor access to adequate nutrition and hygiene — and of course, this is compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, she added.
“My role this mission is to oversee and advise regarding epidemic prevention and control, assessing existing systems and providing input on design of future systems, to try to mitigate the challenging infectious disease potential.”
Gordon said the team has huge respect for the many Haitian Red Cross colleagues who have been severely impacted yet work tirelessly.
“Once again, the goodness and grace of humanity appears in the midst of tragedy,” she said.
Gordon has been deployed several times with CRC in recent years, including Sierra Leon during the Ebola crisis in 2014, Nepal after an earthquake in 2015, Bangladesh in 2017, Kenya in 2018 again with Ebola and Mozambique in 2019 after Cyclone Idai.