Skip to main content
article atm-icon bar bell bio cancel-o cancel ch-icon crisis-color crisis cs-icon doc-icon down-angle down-arrow-o down-triangle download email-small email external facebook googleplus hamburger image-icon info-o info instagram left-angle-o left-angle left-arrow-2 left-arrow linkedin loader menu minus-o pdf-icon pencil photography pinterest play-icon plus-o press right-angle-o right-angle right-arrow-o right-arrow right-diag-arrow rss search tags time twitter up-arrow-o videos

Suggested Content

Restoring Health and Hope after Disaster

  • February 5, 2024
  • Earthquake
  • Staff from Americares (left) and Heart to Heart International (right) stand in front of the modular medical clinic at Heart to Heart's headquarters in Lenexa, Kansas before it departed for Hawaii. Photo courtesy of Americares.

“In the six months since the devastating Hawaii wildfires, survivors are still in the midst of recovery. Americares is not only helping to restore access to critically needed health services, we’re also helping restore hope as survivors rebuild their lives.”

Americares Director of U.S. Emergency Response Mariel Fonteyn

The Hawaii wildfires, the deadliest in the U.S. in more than a century, killed at least 97 people, displaced thousands and caused an estimated $5.6 billion in damage. The disaster hit especially hard for people experiencing homelessness in Maui, compounding the difficulties they already faced to survive.

“The fires stripped away what little stability unhoused populations had, and for many of them, it also exacerbated their physical and mental health needs,” said Fonteyn. “We quickly mobilized to determine how best to support these survivors and ensure that they had access to quality health services.”

In response, Americares partnered with Heart to Heart International to donate a modular medical clinic to Project Vision Hawaii, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to providing health care to individuals experiencing homelessness. The clinic, staffed by a rotating team of volunteer nurses and nurse practitioners from Project Vision Hawaii, provides wound care, primary care and mental health support for those who are still displaced as well as unhoused individuals at a temporary shelter in Pu‘uhonua o Nēnē. At the same time, the clinic provides traditional Hawaiian healing practices as well as yoga, meditation, acupuncture and massage.

“This clinic has become a lifeline for individuals who were already struggling before the wildfires destroyed their communities,” said Fonteyn. “One patient was diagnosed with MRSA and was isolated in the clinic while his wounds were cared for and he could be transferred to a medical respite location. After about a month of care, he is now doing well and is about to move into his own place. His first space to himself in more than 10 years.”

“It’s not just about treating physical wounds, but also about restoring a sense of normalcy. And most importantly, it is about helping survivors take the first crucial steps towards recovery,” said Fonteyn.

Americares has been on the frontlines of the response since day one, working in partnership with local organizations and our peers to restore access to critically needed health services and help survivors cope with the immense loss and trauma brought by this unprecedented disaster. To date, we have delivered more than $330,000 in medicines, medical supplies, emergency funding and technical assistance to support survivors. “Impacted communities are on their way to recovery,” said Fonteyn. “But more work remains, and we are committed to continuing to support them.”

READ MORE about our response and recovery work on the island of Maui.