In April as we were all trying to figure out how to adapt to COVID we checked in with Florcie Tyrell, who leads Faith in Action International’s Haiti affiliate. She let us know how at-risk Northeast Haiti was to the pandemic because of its proximity to the border with the Dominican Republic, and how ill-equipped her government was to respond to the public health crisis.
We helped Floricie raise $15,000 for a health education and prevention campaign. One concern was that people who were thought to have the virus would be stigmatized and forced to leave their villages. To fight fear and share accurate information, Florcie and a local doctor spoke weekly on local radio and produced public service announcements about COVID. They trained 689 grassroots leaders in basic prevention so they could train their friends and neighbors.
With donations from the U.S. they installed dozens of washing stations in markets and schools, gave masks to moto-taxi drivers and public workers, and distributed 5,700 educational flyers. All told, the campaign provided supplies and materials to 35,000 people and helped lower COVID rates in Northeast Haiti.
I was moved by how much Florcie and her colleagues were able to accomplish with so little. They have no illusions that their work can replace a functioning government. The President of Haiti, with support from the Trump Administration has ruled by decree since January, when he dissolved parliament, and then postponed municipal elections. Today local governments have no elected leaders and little or no funds.
Faith in Action International helps grassroots leaders across the globe hold their governments accountable to provide basic services and invest in community development. We believe that every person has inherent dignity, that people know what is best for their community, that faith can be a powerful source of motivation and that by organizing together people can address the root causes of poverty and suffering.
Thanks for your support,
Fr. John Baumann, S.J., Faith in Action Founder and International Director