Orthodox Mission in Haiti: medical response to cholera outbreak
Orthodox Mission in Haiti: medical response to cholera outbreak
Fr. Matthew Williams
Fr. Matthew Williams
Fr. Matthew Williams
November 30, 2010

New York - The cholera outbreak in Haiti is taking the country by storm.  The outbreak started at the end of October and in the last month has affected nearly 100,000 people and killed over 1600 people.  Members of the mission have not been spared from the outbreak. Two individuals from the parish in Maissade have been hospitalized with cholera.  In the interview below, priest Matthew Williams, assistant administrator of the Orthodox Mission in Haiti, talks about the medical response the mission is preparing to help our Orthodox brethren.

What kind of a response is the mission preparing?
The Orthodox Mission in Haiti is working with a medical practitioner to prepare a medical response to the cholera outbreak.

What comes into that?

A medical practitioner and a couple of volunteers will be going to Port-au-Prince on December 8, equipped with medical supplies to provide rehydration and other forms of treatment to the members of the mission affected by cholera as well as to treat any neighbors of the mission that may need care.

Why kind of sum are you hoping to collect?

For the medical response we are looking at a budget of approximately $10K. This will provide transportation, medical supplies and equipment for the response. The deadline for this is unfortunately immediate.  We’ve already spent a good portion of that on medical supplies and transportation (tickets).

Are you looking for volunteers?

There is a need for at least one more medical volunteer – that would be very useful to the team.

If anyone is interested in helping, what are the conditions for going?

Anyone wishing to volunteer for the December trip should get into immediate contact with me: frmatthew@orthodoxhaiti.org.  There are preparations that need to be made that take time. For example, there are immunizations that volunteers need to have. 

What supplies are being bought?

The supplies include everything from oral rehydration salts, antibiotics, to IV sets… Anything that might be needed to treat a patient at any stage of the cholera infection.  On a separate note, with the help of the Fund for Assistance, we are providing the Mission with a large quantity of water purification tablets to provide clean water to the churches and the schools of the mission.

How much will this medical outreach be able to help the mission?

It’s difficult to say at this point. We don’t know how widespread the outbreak will be when the response is there. It’s a precautionary response in terms of the needs of the mission.  It is also an outreach from the mission to those nearby.   We are prepared to treat hundreds of patients.

What is the mission’s most urgent need right now?

That’s a difficult question.  Perhaps the question should be: what is not needed in Haiti?

In addition to the medical response, what are the general needs of the mission?

In addition to the medical response the mission has considerable ongoing financial needs in order to assist families in need, as well as for the daily operational costs of the churches and schools which largely rely on donations to operate.

Why is the mission not collecting supplies through parishes?

Supplies are most efficiently purchased and shipped in bulk. The items needed in Haiti, such as water purification tablets, are very expensive in small quantities, whereas they can be purchased in bulk for a relatively small amount price, so it’s simply a matter of timing and efficiency to purchase these items in bulk. 


To learn more about the Russian Orthodox Mission in Haiti, please visit http://orthodoxhaiti.org/ 

To assist the suffering Orthodox in Haiti, please donate here or send a check made out to the Fund for Assistance, memo "Haiti medical Assistance" to:

Fund for Assistance
75 E 93 St
New York, NY 10128

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