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The photo (above) is a bit odd for HaitiChildren. Not the bubbly children theme we like to update and share with you but this is very appropriate as it is protecting our children. It is a photo of mosquito nets purchased to protect the orphanage from a mosquito epidemic in Haiti right now. The epidemic is called CHIKUNGUNYA. The staff at M&S has been efficient in their efforts to protect themselves and the children. We are grateful for them. We have been touched by it though as some of our employees in other areas and their families have been bitten and it sounds like a scary ordeal and very uncomfortable for all. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone that has been impacted and hope for a speedy recovery. The unfortunate thing for us is that the market is taking advantage of this situation and cost are so high for these mosquito nets, bug spray, and fumigation of our properties that we trying to find the extra funding to protect our beloved Haitian family. We are fortunate for everyone’s support emotionally and financially.

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I am currently living in Cyvadier right outside of Jacmel and there has been an alarming number of community members, friends, children, and colleagues coming down with the vector-disease, especially due to this years’ rainy season that brought torrential rains for over the past two months. Numbers being reported of cases do not represent the actuality the MSSP released a report saying over 5,500 cases, but other sources are claiming realistically the numbers are closer to 32,000 in Haiti already and believe that at least 1/3 will become infected.

We are mobilizing ground efforts for community clean-ups of stagnant water and trash — the mosquito’s breeding grounds. We will also be putting out an appeal this week for assistance to distribute awareness and prevention material and for mosquito nets for newborns and the elderly.

While Chikunguna (CHIKV) isn’t fatal, it can cause major health complications for those at high-risk. Two ex-pat families have small children who suffered from seizures yesterday as a result of the symptoms of the disease. The children were taken to Jacmel’s Saint Michael hospital where they received no help because there is no treatment for it.

There is otherwise NO visible assistance on the ground or awareness campaigns yet this disease is so debilitating and painful and for some individuals can be detrimental to their livelihoods.

In late April I returned to NYC from Haiti and ended up the hospital the first week back with CHIKV symptoms. I had told them I had come from Haiti but they hadn’t been informed of the breakout. Currently I know Florida hospitals are equipped to test for CHIKV and have awareness material some even in creole. This disease carried by mosquitos has already made its way across the Caribbean and has several hundred cases reported in the states already. People and communities stateside need to start educating themselves as well!

Kara E. Lightburn
Executive Director
Social Tap, Inc. | The Haiti Initiative (THI)
“Tapping Resources for Community Capacity-Development”