2010 cholera preparations (File photos courtesy of British Red Cross)
Haiti (MNN) ― Haiti cannot catch a break. Heavy rains this week triggered flooding and landslides that killed 23 people.
Dozens of camps around Port-au-Prince were flooded, and hundreds of families were affected. Jeff Vandermolen with Kids Alive International says, "Because of the heavy rains, the sanitation has begun to deteriorate again. Some of the polluted water that has been the cause of the cholera is now more widespread."
Aid agencies are scrambling to respond to the resurgence. However, this time around, Vandermolen notes that "the medical community is communicating with the Haitian population saying, ‘The risk is going up. You need to be careful. You need to make sure that you're getting clean drinking water, and that you're sanitizing food, washing hands.'"
By June 8, the rivers had already begun receding, allowing workers to begin another round of cleanup. However, Oxfam says they're concerned with the virulence of the current cholera outbreak. In Carrefour, the population is dense, which means the outbreak will spread quickly and likely will be worse than the outbreak last fall.
Warnings like that are not taken lightly, even for groups like like Kids Alive who are living far outside the main outbreak area. Vandermolen explains, "In the north where we are, near Cap Haitien, there are cases of the cholera. But I think the frequency is less in our area." He goes on to say that the last round caught everyone off guard. This time, "I think that people are more conscious of it, realizing the risk and that we're better set up this time around to handle that."
So far, Kids Alive teams have not reported cholera among the children they're helping. "We're continuing to practice clean water and good hygiene within our ministry, within our schools, and within our residential program."
Kids Alive has four branches of ministry in Haiti: Phillip's Place, Nate's Place, Joseph's Children's Home, and the Haiti Children's Village. Through these, the kids get an education, nutritious meals, medical care and the love of Christ.
Recently, Vandermolen says they brought in a mobile medical clinic to serve the community. Because of the outbreak, he says people are coming for prevention help. "Certainly those opportunities are providing us an opportunity to speak with them about Jesus and to be a very practical part of their life and extension of our faith."
The flip side of that is debilitating fear. The last cholera epidemic is fresh on people's minds. Vandermolen urges prayer for their team, the kids, and their response to the community. "There's a potential for a great level of fear, maybe unfounded fear. Certainly, Satan wants to bring us to a place of fear that maybe hinders our spiritual growth."