By Marie Farrell
Five Americans follow two Haitians along a winding narrow concrete lined corridor in the Christ Roi neighborhood of Port-au-Prince. Descending the path from the main road we bypass people’s homes and curious onlookers until we reach our destination. It is a smallish home. There is no door. Only a curtain affords privacy to those inside. Telemaque Fequiere and Sheila Merzil, Outreach to Haiti Health Agents, announce their presence and ask if hey may enter the home. A young girl, maybe 8 years old, peaks out and covers her mouth in surprise upon seeing that some white people have come to visit.
Two of the residents of the home have benefited from Outreach’s nutrition program. One a 17-year-old new mother was in the expectant mother’s program and had now given birth to a healthy child. Her sister’s daughter had been in the children’s program. Both were malnourished. Both were brought back to health. Outreach’s Health Agents had come to follow up on health and sanitation issues in their home.
The new mom was proudly holding her 3-month-old infant but soon passed her to an admiring young American in our group. She explained that her sister and her baby were not there at the time. The Health Agents would need to come back another time to check on her niece. They would.
As they viewed the 10 foot by 10-foot home the Americans saw only one bed. They learned that 14 people lived in the home. The outside temperature was 90. It was much hotter inside. There were 3 school age children who were there at the time. None of them attended school.
What was clear to us Americans was that Outreach cared about this family and that the Outreach nutrition program and the follow up visits of Health Agents were working to change and save lives. But it was also clear that there is much more to do. While Outreach serves 10 expectant moms and 100 children each year in the nutrition program, there are many more malnourished expectant moms and children in the neighborhood that are not reached.
While Outreach educates 200 children there are 300 more on the waiting list including the 3 we met on our visit. Outreach is a small agency whose staff longs to do more. People should not live like the family in this 10x10 foot home. But they do. Outreach’s goal is to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others like them in Christ Roi. They need your help.