Keeping children healthy in rural communities lacking access to basic health care requires a strong local partnership and community organization. AmeriCares Haiti local partner, Rezo Koze Lasante (RKLS), the only community-based health center in the area, added another component to its child health efforts by organizing a health awareness day in the remote community of Thomonde in Haiti’s West Department.
The special health awareness day included general consultations, hygiene education and distribution of AmeriCares-donated Vitamin A, XANGO meal packs, de-worming medication, along with other essential medicines. In response to the high rate of malnutrition in children under 5 years old in Thomande, RKLS is also running a regular food program for approximately 20 children and a nutritional stabilization program for 40 malnourished children.
Izmane, a 37-year-old mother of six children living in Bois Negresse, relies on subsistence farming, small-scale animal husbandry and a meager income from the sale of charcoal. She can only afford to send two of her children to school. Her husband is an agricultural laborer in neighboring Dominican Republic and is only able to come home twice a year, walking for 2-3 days through the fields because he does not have any legal documents. He has been arrested and repatriated at least five times in eight years, but he continues to return to the Dominican Republic, because “it is worse to stay home,” said Izmane.
The staff of RKLS met Izmane with three of her children at a mobile medical clinic in November 2013. All of her children had acute respiratory infections and two had fevers with signs of malnutrition. Izmane indicated that the children had been sick for two months, but she had no funds to go to the clinic, which is a five-hour walk from her home. The RKLS medical team provided her with AmeriCares-donated medicines for her children at no cost. With tears in her eyes, she thanked the Lord and RKLS for this gift.
RKLS, or “health matters network,” provides medical care, health education and hope to an estimated 50,000 people in the rural areas of Ganthier, Fonds Verettes and Thomonde, Haiti. Since 2013, AmeriCares has supported the RKLS community health clinic to help people like Izmane through donations of medicines and supplies as well as funding for a community vaccination campaign along with construction of the clinic and its sanitation facilities. Thanks to this collaboration, extremely vulnerable people have received quality medical care.