Healthcare and Healh Education at the Aristide Foundation

March 8, 2012 was the 16th anniversary of the Aristide Foundation for Democracy.  To mark the anniversary and International Women’s Day, the Foundation organized a health fair.   Dr. Jessy Pierre, the medical director for the day, coordinated  32 doctors and 15 nurses who consulted over 600 people during the six hour clinic.    The medical staff included two optometrists and a dentist.  Students from 29 area schools came to the Foundation for the day for one-on-one consultations with physicians and also to hear health education talks.   This health fair was organized in conjunction with  29 schools in the La Plaine area– whose students don’t often get the opportunity to consult with physicians.

While students waited for their consultations, the doctors present offered medical educations talks.  Dr. Marie Antoinette Gauthier (surgeon and former member of Haiti’s national football team) stressed with students the importance of physical activity and encouraged them to find creative ways to stay active – all the while conscious that many schools don’t have any outdoor space, the few public parks that exist in Port-au-Prince are still occupied and walking on the streets dangerous with cars and taxi-motorcycles (taxi-moto).  As students waited, doctors and/or nurses spoke to small groups about general hygiene, and with the rains approaching, the risks of cholera and cholera prevention

March also saw the inauguration of ‘Klinik Alo Dokté’  (Hello, Doctor Clinic)

Alo Dokte (Hello Doctor)  is a public health education program on the Foundation’s radio station,  Radyo Timoun.  The program, which was launched in January, is hosted by 5 doctors  and one dentist, who take calls from the public on health topics.  All of these doctors are part of the corps of 745 Haitian physicians who were trained in Cuba since 1996.

The radio programs runs for one hour, 5 days a week. the program begins with a  discussion of a health related topic (AIDS prevention, How to recognize Cholera, etc.)  Phone lines are then open to callers.   Adults and children then call in with very specific and sometimes very serious questions about their own health or the health of a family member.   The doctors offer advice and answers to questions.   The doctors also give out their personal cell phone numbers and get calls well into the night, even after they’ve left the radio station.

The tremendous response to the show has led to a decision to to create a clinic in the Foundation linked to the show where instead of calling, members of the community can come in person for a consultation with any one of the participating doctors.


Youth Leadership in Haiti

On Wednesday February 3, more than seven hundred young people gathered at the Aristide Foundation for Democracy to launch the Aristide-Lavalas Youth league  (Ligue de la Jeunesse Aristido-Lavalasse).  The goal of the Youth League is to bring young people together to vitalize Haiti’s democracy and to initiate service projects to help their communities in the fields of education and health.

Each department of Haiti was represented by a delegation of 10-12 young people all of whom made the long trip to Port-au-Prince because they want to contribute to the building of a participatory democracy in Haiti.   Early in the morning of Feb 2, these departmental youth delegations met for a four-hour discussion/ workshop in the conference room of the AFD to share perspectives, brainstorm ideas, and create an orientation for the new organization.  Pyschologist Wladimir Constant facilitated this dialogue titled, “The Leadership of the Young.”

Toussaint Hilaire, director of the AFD addresses the youth delegates

For the second stage of the event the delegations came downstairs, and onto the stage of the auditorium, where they were welcomed with thunderous applause by over 700 other young people from the department of the West (Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas), who gathered in the auditorium to welcome the national delegates and to officially launch this Youth League.

Much of the organizing to launch the Youth League was done by young UNIFA graduates together with the leadership of the Foundation.   These young doctors who began their medical training at UniFA before the 2004 coup d’etat, and then finished their training in Cuba, are now back in Haiti and have been central to all the AFD’s efforts to assist in the wake of the earthquake.   This initiative also builds on the Foundation’s efforts over the past year to empower young people to be at the forefront of service in wake of the quake (though mobile clinics staffed by young doctors, mobile schools staffed by young high school and college graduates, and our youth-led mental health project Soulaje Lespri Moun, and the the reopening of UNIFA ).

Youth Delegates on the stage at the AFD, Feb. 2, 2011

The launching of this youth league represents the determination of all the young people who have came together on February 3, to offer their energy, creativity, and vitality towards a new Haiti.

Rose Yvica Roche Volcy and Yves Merry Stuart Roche were the MC’s for the ceremony in the auditorium.   Hancy Pierre Louis, professor of economics and former Vice Governor of the Central Bank, gave a presentation on Haiti’s economy.

Hancy Pierre Louis addressing the Youth League

Wladimir Constant, spoke again on the centrality of youth leadership, and Toussaint Hilaire, the Director of the Arsitide Foundation spoke about the importance of youth gaining confidence in themselves through service to the country and offered perspectives on the kinds of civic and service projects the Youth League might undertake, such as literacy programs for adults, and educational projects for children who are not in school.

Joseph Marc Anderson, a youth representative then spoke on behalf of the league and presented its charter to those present.

A cultural presentation by Kolonb Dor, the youth troupe of the Aristide Foundation followed.

We look forward to seeing this new organization evolve and flourish.  Only Haitians can rebuild Haiti.

A Clinic for Those who Lost Limbs in the Quake

On January 7, 2011 the Aristide Foundation organized a clinic for 400 people who were injured or lost limbs as a result of the earthquake.  Over 5,000 people are estimated to have lost a limb as a result of injuries sustained during the earthquake.  The group gathered in the auditorium of the Aristide Foundation on the morning of the 7th.  Each person then received a consultation with a doctor.  Four orthopedists, two surgeons, and 15 general medical doctors (most of whom are former UniFA students, trained in Cuba) offered their services for the day.

After the consultation, crutches, wheel chairs, walker and canes for the elderly, were distributed free of charge to those in need of them.  Most of the equipment we distributed came from a gift facilitated by Haiti Emergency Relief Fund, we thank them for enabling us to some help to those in need.

This event was the first in a series of events planned this week to mark the anniversary of the quake through service to the survivors.

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