The J/P Haitian Relief Organization is a registered non-profit charitable foundation established to help the people of Haiti recover from the devastating January 12, 2010 earthquake. In April 2010, J/P HRO was appointed camp manager of the Pétionville IDP camp by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). In December 2010 J/P HRO added Cite Maxo, a smaller IDP camp near Pétionville, to the camp management roster-raising the number of IDP’s under J/P HRO camp management to around 55,000. As of September 2011, because of our relocation program of camp residents, the population of the camp has shrunk to approx. 23,000.
As camp managers, J/P HRO oversees the coordination of multiple non-governmental aid organizations working within the camp to provide health, sanitation, education, security, shelter, water and various other vital resources for the Pétionville and Maxo residents.
Before the 2010 rainy season hit its peak, J/P HRO coordinated the relocation of over 5,000 people living in potential mudslide and flood areas from within the Pétionville camp to another planned camp outside of the flood zone. The relocation allowed the U.S. Navy Construction Battalions (better known as the Navy SeaBees) to create canals and perform other mitigation to prevent mudslides and flooding in this steep terrain. On September 24th, 2010 a microburst storm ripped through the Pétionville Camp destroying the J/P HRO office and living quarters, but the drainage canals in the camp prevented flooding from the downpour and only minor casualties were registered. J/P HRO employs an all-Haitian construction crew, specializing in rebuilding damaged or weathered structures, which have rebuilt over 1,000 tents since the rainy season.
Ecole de L’espoir (School of Beautiful Hope) the J/P HRO primary school that opened in October 2010, is recognized by the Ministry of Education for providing 260 students a free primary school education—something uncommon in a country where there is no wide scale public education system. The J/P HRO community center offers adult literacy classes in Creole, French and English, youth programs, sanitation education classes, and a job-training program for adult camp residents. The classes are taught entirely on a voluntary basis by camp residents, providing the opportunity for those with specialized skills and trades to give back to their community.
J/P HRO began as a medical mission, and though we’re now an organization that does so much more, our medical program remains an important feature of who we are. Over the course of 2010 and 2011, J/P HRO treated over 95,000 patients and delivered over 450 babies. Illnesses ranging from ear infections to major trauma have come through our primary care tent facility. We are one of the best-equipped 24/7 emergency medical facilities in Port au Prince with both digital x-ray and ultrasound.
Our medical program consists of two primary health care clinics, a women’s clinic, mobile clinics, a 24/7 emergency room, 24/7 maternity care, and 24/7 emergency transport. While we have always been a team of both foreign volunteers and Haitian nationals, we now have a full staff of Haitian national medical professionals and support staff. This has enabled our foreign volunteers to play a strictly supportive role, providing education and mentorship.
Our plans for future projects include expanding our community education to include more men’s health, group prenatal classes and mental health. Chronic disease clinics are underway to provide a consistent method for following up with patients suffering from hypertension, diabetes, chronic wounds and malnutrition. We also anticipate establishing permanent clinics within the neighborhoods in which our rubble program is working. Our ultimate goal is to empower Haitian medical professionals to take ownership of these programs, allowing their impact to reach far beyond J/P HRO.
Emergency Response Operations: Cholera Epidemic
J/P HRO’s response to the cholera epidemic is aggressive and ongoing. On October 21, 2010, when Cholera hit Haiti, our team responded immediately, setting up our Cholera Isolation Zone. It is fully run by a Haitian national staff of nurses, a doctor, cleaners and gate keepers. Following the initial outbreak we deployed a constant supply of medics and resources to some of the hardest-hit areas in the country. In early December, we partnered with the Ministère de la Santé Publique et de la Population (MSPP) and launched a comprehensive mission to assess ongoing medical and human resource needs and to deliver supplies nationwide. These operations have been conducted with particular emphasis on the ongoing epidemic in isolated rural areas. The collaboration targets existing Cholera Treatment Units (CTU’s) and Cholera Treatment Centers (CTC’s) that care for gravely ill patients, as well as newly affected areas where outbreaks were previously unreported. With the assistance of helicopters supplied by United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) and the government of the Dominican Republic, our missions have delivered over 100 tons of medical supplies and personnel throughout Haiti. Utilizing both foreign and national medical personnel we have provided education to the existing staff at these facilities, raising their standard of care to a level where they will be self-sustaining in treating and preventing the further spread of this disease.
Determined to aid camp residents in the return to their neighborhoods, rubble removal became a natural extension of our camp management goals. In the Delmas district, where most of the Pétionville Camp residents are from, approximately 25% of the properties are declared red (unsafe or collapsed). J/P HRO has developed a reproducible and sustainable model for rubble removal that we have shared with all other entities in the country. Our quick, efficient and respectful clearing of neighborhoods has been held up as a model by prominent international organizations and local governments. J/P HRO has assisted the World Bank, IDB, Dalbergand USAID in developing ideas for community-based rubble clearance.
Rubble clearance allows the rebuilding of communities, the returning of families to neighborhoods, and increased safety for all. It is anticipated that reopening of schools and businesses will soon follow as communities are repopulated. The rubble clearing has encouraged Haitians to participate in spontaneous clearing efforts themselves. Every day we see evidence of people clearing rubble from their home sites by hand, almost doubling the effectiveness of our work. The emotional, physical and spiritual impact of rubble removal cannot be underestimated.