Cholera Epidemic:

With over 1200 dead and thousands in hospital, the situation right now is critical. Our medical team has been going to the remotest areas of the cholera epidemic and have treated some 750 people. We had recently received a donation of antibiotics which we weren’t sure if we could utilize before they expired; it turned out they were exactly what we needed for treating Cholera. Oral rehydration salts (ORS) are difficult to find. Our Dr. said some is available but the price went from around $80 a box to $480 a box. Unfortunately, there is a world-wide shortage for this and water purification tablets since the earthquake in Haiti and the flooding in Pakistan. In hoping to do something more sustainable some of the UN groups have arranged training to use local materials for prevention and treatment. The problem is that cholera is not endemic to Haiti so people are getting very sick very fast after contracting it. Generally, people do not recognize the urgency in getting treatment for friends or family members after they first get sick. Recently, after driving over incredibly horrible roads, our team arrived at a hospital late at night. Dr. Luis said he would sleep for a few hours, but please wake him for any emergencies. Two people were brought in that night and died before Dr. Luis ever saw them. He was really upset and asked why they didn't wake him and they said they didn't think it was an emergency. So information is essential- Dr. Luis says cholera is easy to get but also to cure. We have sent some of our teachers and our community organizers to a training on how to use theater to convey the prevention and treatment message of cholera. Trainings are scheduled in the camps for the coming weeks.

Hurricane Tomas:

The good news for Port au Prince is the hurricane passed a bit west of the city, avoiding a direct hit. There was a lot of rain, but luckily not much wind., which was good for those living in tents. Our center is right on the river, so in preparation for the storm, everything was brought up to the top floor, all those living in tents in our compound as well as our staff and the 12 kids relocated to a house above the city, donated to us to use for the duration of the storm. It was no easy feat to move this large a crowd, along with securing the building and seeing to the needs of those living in the camps we work with. But somehow everything got done in time, and miraculously, there was no damage to the center, and overall the only real complaint was of getting wet. After the storm passed and everyone was moved back to the center, we focused on getting new tarps for the families in the camps, again not easy as there are few available now in Haiti.

For the weeks leading up the the hurricane, our teams worked to strengthen the Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) to better serve as shelters during the storm. During the heavy rains in the past few months the CFSs have been used for this purpose successfully. Cement floors have been added to at least some of the structures as well as other upgrades.

Our more recently built Hurricane Shelter is operational and will hopefully also help.


So far our volunteers are holding up under the strain and pressure of all the challenges Haiti is facing. Here is an excerpt from one of their reports regarding day to day events:

“We had recently taken G. to the TB ward in the general hospital after a long night of first taking him to Medecin san Frontier and then trying to find the TB sanatorium, which we eventually found after asking at least 25 people, only to find that it hasn’t been operable since the earthquake. We finally got him accepted at the general hospital TB ward which is located in tents. He came back to the center, but again having respiratory problems we had him readmitted. The hospital agreed and when he arrived his bed was still warm (or cold) from a dead body. The Dr. who runs the TB program is from NJ and said they have only 20 beds and are the only TB sanatorium in PAP. You can’t imagine how difficult it is to get any kind of proper care for these serious health issues. “

Micro Finance:

Finally! After repeatedly hitting brick walls in our efforts to establish a micro credit finance program for the women in our camps, we are starting this pilot program by self-funding with a small grant we received. There will be 4 groups of 5 women, one group in each of 4 camps. They will be given training and each woman will receive about $80, but they will work as a group to support each other in paying back the loan. We are working hard on the training modules as we want to help these women succeed. We are still sending in proposals to do a larger program as it is critical the people themselves find some economic self sufficiency.

Programs in the Camps:

Although it is incredibly frustrating there is still so little permanent housing available; the people in the camps have amazing resiliency. Currently Amurtel is working in 9 camps. Programs in many of the camps are ongoing. Here is some news about a few of the programs we are involved with:

The cooperative water project at St. Hillaire is going strong, benefiting not only the residents of the camp with clean drinking water, but helping the women who set up the coop develop the beginning of an economic foundation.

We are partnering with a group called GOAL to build transitional shelters - we work in the camps with the communities and pass the info on to GOAL so they can begin moving forward with land titles, construction of t-shelters, and perhaps in the future, rubble removal and repairs to damaged (assessed "yellow") homes. We have obtained all info from St Hillaire and L'Eglise de Dieu and are working now on getting the info from the other camps.


The environmental project Amurt has been doing in the Northwest has been very successful with about 1/2 million trees planted and the completion of the water-diversion project. The villages are extremely happy with the results and goals for the project have been exceeded. There will be a decision by the government on or around Dec. 15th on whether there is enough money in the Emergency Relief Fund to continue the project for another 6 months.

Children: Amurt/el is building a Child Friendly Space, (CFS) at St. Hillaire. The other CFS’s are going well with strong community support and participation. In those camps with CFS’s, we also have supplemental feeding programs established, providing one hot meal a day to children and pregnant and nursing moms. As the lack of jobs and permanent shelters continues, so does the increase in malnutrition, and with it, more susceptibility to disease.

Our own children are somehow managing to thrive. Pat Munday, who lived in Fayston for many years, is currently working with Amurtel in Haiti and sent in this update about the kids:

“I had just been thinking how nice not to have the frantic sleepless nights as after the earthquake. Then there was Lola crying at 3 am and I brought her into my room and tucked her in, followed by Sarita with a soaking wet diaper and in tears and tucked her in then I realized the new kitten was also sleeping with us. Last night he was sleeping crawled up between Philito's legs, and Malika caught a cold which is always horrible for her, and had such a hard time breathing and coughing and sleeping, so I did too. She has grown so big now, heavier than all the kids. I guess all the protein powder we were told to give for the kwashiorkor (malnutrition) and also all the loving care has them all quite healthy but for these colds which they share back and forth as they share everything else as well. I am writing this now in the quiet time of day- after bathing, feeding and dressing in matching uniforms and playing Cinderella trying to find matching shoes and socks- then all the kids go downstairs to school.”

It has been a long haul for the people in Haiti. It has been almost a year now since the earthquake and few things have improved. With the elections coming up, things are getting a bit more unsettled. It is crucial we not turn our backs on these people who have endured so much and continue to struggle to move forward.

Thank you all for your continued support.