Words Have Wings
This past Friday, HHA completed the DFID grant- a 3+ year grant increasing the Community Health capacity and building bridges between people in local communities and facility-based care. But what does that mean? How has this programme affected the lives of people in communities around Cap-Haitien? How has this programme supported existing healthcare facilities such as HCBH? What is the next step?
Let's start with how this project has built capacity and support for healthcare facilities. Our two main partnering areas are HCBH and Unite Lutte Sante (ULS). Both of these areas are serving areas that have great need for not just any healthcare, but consistent, quality care. This grant has supported their capacity for the clinic and the hospital, taking what they are already doing and supporting their staff. These facilities are driven by people with vision- and longevity. Vision is only as good as its ability to dig in and get the work done day by day. These doctors and administrators have committed for the longterm. They are making advances in a difficult place everyday. People like Dr Toussaint, Adm Immacula, and Dr Mesadieu are just a few of the people who are working everyday to advance their communities and facilities, lead their staff, and increase the accessibility of healthcare. Heroes.
Jobs are another way this grant has impacted lives, in particular the 12 Community Health Agents and 2 Project Nurses that have received work for 3 years. In a country where nearly 2/3 of the population does not have formal work, these jobs carry an immense amount of importance. DFID has provided stable income for these 14 individuals and many more supporting roles in our partner hospital and clinic. When the discussion on impact of projects, the amount of local jobs provided should not be quickly overlooked.
Communities have been impacted in incredible ways throughout this 3 year project. Each Community Health Agent lives and works in their own community, where mobile clinics, vaccinations posts, Women's Groups, Traditional Birthing Attendants are helping women give birth, and home visits are taking places. Women who gave birth Year 1, then took their infants to get vaccinated and later brought their kids to mobile clinics for sickness or malnutrition. The male leaders in these communities then participated in the Male Leadership Conference, returning back to clubs, homes, schools, and churches to share the knowledge they have learned. These communities around Cap-Haitien communities have received direct impact through each and every aspect of this project.
Lastly, this project has built bridges. The medical system in Haiti is not a simple thing to navigate. Especially when people lack resources like money or transportation, don't know where to go, who to see, and how to navigate can be quite difficult. Imagine trying to do this while also not knowing how to read and write. The Community Health Agents are trained to help people receive the care they need- by helping educate the population on where to go and how to get the care necessary. Neighbors and families then share that information amongst each other. Building bridges between communities to facilities has been and continues to be an objective of HHA's community work.
Throughout this project, we have seen the impact consistent education and training can have on communities. There is a Haitian Proverb that reads "Paròl gen zèl" which is translated: Words have Wings. As HHA moves into a new stage of community health support, our hope is that the words that have been shared and things learned will remain in the communities and shared for many months and years to come. We look to what these new "wings" will bring in a new phase of vision and hard work.