The last few weeks have been very busy ones here in Haiti.
One of the big developments in recent weeks has been the collaboration between the Haitian Tourism Minister, Haven and Soul of Haiti. Last week, Haven Country Director John Moore and Soul of Haiti Country Director Damien Meaney met with the Haitian Tourism Minister Stephanie Villedrouin, Mayor of Île à Vache Fritz Cezar, and Director for the Southern Region Karine Conde to discuss the contribution of both organisations to the community on the island.
Ms Conde has been an instrumental factor in the communication between the Ministry of Tourism and Haven/Soul of Haiti, and is well versed in the work that both organisations have carried out on the island. This initial meeting was considered to be an exploratory meeting where Haven and Soul of Haiti outlined what they want to achieve over the coming months and years, and the Minister outlined what the government wants to achieve. All in all, the goal of both parties is to work together as much as possible to further improve the conditions on the island. Upon hearing the long list of work that Soul of Haiti and Haven have carried out on the island, the Minister was both surprised and extremely impressed. She was most impressed by the number of volunteers that both organisations have brought to the island over the past few years.
During the meeting, important groundwork was established by both parties for the improvement of conditions on Île à Vache. The Minister has asked for cooperation from both organisations on a number of upcoming projects including:
- The relocation of 6 houses on the sea front in Madame Bernard with the possibility of a further 94 house relocations on various parts of the island. If adequate funding is secured, Haven would co-fund the house relocations with the government.
- The possibility of a flush water toilet systems as opposed to Ecosan latrines.
- The possibility of setting up water kiosks in a number of locations on the island that would sell safe treated water. This project would be run as an income generation project for the local community.
The Minister is also interested in exploring the possibility of a waste recycling project on the island; Soul of Haiti will take the lead on this project and is looking into the feasibility of this.
At the end of the meeting, all parties agreed that cooperation was needed to further the great work that has already been carried out. This meeting was a big step in the right direction for Haven and Soul of Haiti in terms of development on Île à Vache.
Another story that is making the headlines in Haiti and the rest of the Caribbean is the outbreak of Chikungunya in the region. Chikungunya (pronounced chik-en-gun-ye) is a tropical viral disease transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. It causes fever, rash and severe joint pain. The disease shares some clinical signs with dengue, and can be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue is common.
The number of confirmed cases of Chikungunya in Haiti has surged rapidly past 50,000 and this number is expected to rise considerably over the coming weeks. There is no cure for the disease, but treatment is focused on relieving the symptoms with pain killers such a Paracetamol. Having contracted Chikungunya last week, all I can say is that it is extremely unpleasant but I live to tell the tale!