(Late-breaking update: Even as our partner, IMA World Health, works hard to combat the scourge of cholera, violence in Haiti has made that job much more difficult. IMA staff have had to be evacuated due to recent violence in Haiti's capital. Please keep these mission partners and the people of Haiti in your prayers)
An American children's ditty sings (in verse after verse) that "there's a hole in the bucket," and that hole makes it impossible to do something that needs doing. Fortunately, there were no holes in the buckets distributed by Week of Compassion mission partner IMA World Health to those in Haiti threatened by an outbreak of cholera.
Cholera is a too-often deadly disease that is borne in contaminated water. Haiti had not seen a cholera outbreak in nearly a century, but after the devastating 2010 earthquake, the disease killed 9500 people. Cholera thrives where sanitation is inadequate, and the earthquake damaged much of the sanitation infrastructure across the island. The situation became much worse following torrential rains and flooding in the fall of 2017.
Victor Daphne, 12, stops on his way home from school, Eglise La Foi Apostolique, to help carry buckets to his community in Port-Margot. The buckets are distributed as part of Haiti's Ministry of Public Health and Population's Cholera Program. (Photo by Kara Eberle/IMA World Health)
Working with Haiti's Ministry of Cholera Program, IMA trained twenty-five health workers and sent them into the most disease-threatened areas to equip people with information about healthy hygiene and the importance of safe sanitation. Along with that information, workers distributed water-purification tablets and rehydration salts - and buckets! Each household received two buckets: one with a lid and one without. One bucket is to carry water from the source to their homes, and the other is to store drinking water after it has been purified. Members of each household also received instruction on additional ways to purify water and on how to treat cholera symptoms with home remedies. Dr. Paul-Emile Dalexis, who manages the program for IMA, describes the buckets as a vital tool. "Without the buckets," he said, "people don't have supplies for water conservation."
Cholera is a terrible disease that can swiftly lead to dehydration and shock. It can be deadly within hours if not treated with oral or intravenous rehydration. Yet it is easily deterred with the right equipment and information - and something as simple as a bucket! Thanks to your gifts through Week of Compassion and the partnership between the Ministry and IMA, 7900 families now have the means and knowledge to protect themselves from cholera and continue living a healthy life.