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How One Doctor in Ohio and a team in DonDon are Filling in the Gaps of Government and Business in Haiti

[DONDON, Haiti] – Images of the devastation of the 2010 Haiti Earthquake are surely still fresh in the minds of many. It was a disaster of immense scale and instantaneous impact, but in its shadow, the people of Haiti continue to struggle with chronic problems, such as health, education and vocational issues.

Mobile Clinic

How One Doctor in Ohio and a team in DonDon are Filling in the Gaps of Government and Business in HaitiDondon, a town in Northern Haiti, is no exception. The town has no clinic, no hospital, but thanks to the Haitian Vision Foundation (HVF), they now have a periodic mobile clinic that works to serve those with chronic ailments, such as diabetes and hypertension, for which Haiti’s national government has no program.

To date, HVF has taught children dental hygiene, provided food for undernourished children, given prenatal care to over 200 women and provided medication to over 400 residents with chronic diseases identified at health screenings, including diabetes, hypertension and seizures. Significant reductions in blood pressure and blood glucose levels have been recorded in patients receiving treatment.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the HVF has expanded its reach to establish hand-washing stations across the town, which still lacks wide access to running water – it has even created its own hand sanitizer out of locally available ingredients.

Permanent Health Clinic
How One Doctor in Ohio and a team in DonDon are Filling in the Gaps of Government and Business in Haiti
Dr Bernard seeing 2 pediatric patients

“There is no-one else doing this,” says Dr. Wisler Saint-Vil, founder of HVF. His long-term goal is to establish a permanent health-care clinic for inpatients and outpatients.

“A dollar goes a long way in Haiti compared to the US,” Dr. Saint-Vil explains. “10 dollars will pay for a patient’s monthly hypertension or diabetes medication and $300 will cover a nurse’s salary for a month.”

Job Creation

Quality of life starts with health, but it does not end there. Education and finding a good job are crucial to lifting residents out of poverty. These are the second and third prongs of HVF’s program. While scholarships and English education are helping students in Dondon, if jobs are not also created, their skills will flow outside of the community, or worse, be wasted. Dr. Saint-Vil learned this personally as he was forced to search for a medical residency outside of his home country due to the lack of opportunities. He now works as a doctor in Marietta, Ohio while leading HVF in his spare time.

Microcredit Project

HVF hopes to close the loop by establishing a microcredit project that provides the kind of loans and education that entrepreneurs, instead of the more predatory loan services available in the larger cities, which can sometimes contribute more to the failure of the business rather than the success.

“This will open the potential for trade and business ventures extending beyond just the traditional agriculture and food commodity trading. Helping to bring prosperity where once there was just despair,” Dr. Saint-Vil explains.  Haiti is notorious for its dependence on remittances sent from Haitians working overseas. It makes up almost one-fourth of the country’s GDP.

Health, education and job creation – one non-profit is striving to provide the town of Dondon a customized social betterment program via these three crucial avenues where the national-level government and for-profit organizations have failed.

The biggest hurdle in the Haitian Vision Foundation’s way? Funding, says Dr. Saint-Vil. Ten years after the earthquake and as the pandemic continues to put pressure on local resources, people across Haiti – not just in Dondon – need empowerment even more than ever.

 

 

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