Suzie Wood, who works for Hammerson as the commercialisation manager at Cabot Circus, has recently returned from volunteering in Haiti. She tells us about her experience…
Volunteering with Hope Health Action in Haiti
I was recently part of a team of six who spent two weeks volunteering in Haiti with Hope Health Action (HHA).
Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, is still struggling to recover from recent natural disasters including earthquakes and hurricanes. Its infant mortality rate is one of the highest in the world and life expectancy is relatively low due to poor food, sanitation and healthcare.
HHA is a charity whose goal is to provide affordable, quality healthcare to those who need it. They work predominantly in Haiti but are also expanding their work into South Sudan.
HHA have a hospital just outside Cap-Haïtien. It was built in response to the 2010 earthquake and has been completely funded by HHA.
They provide a neonatal intensive care unit, a maternity ward, a pharmacy and a rehab centre for spinal injuries, all on a fraction of the budget of the NHS. Their intensive care unit can accommodate six babies but the most they have cared for at any one time is 14! There are no extra resources when that happens, they just have to make it work.
At the hospital is Maison de Benediction, a centre that provides respite care for children with disabilities or learning difficulties. In Haiti, these children are often neglected or abused and the Maison offers them a safe place to receive the food and care they need, four days a week. Unfortunately, there isn’t funding for seven days.
We spent our time at the Maison building a sensory garden for the children. The design includes a wheelchair accessible path, a gazebo, a swimming pool and a sensory path. It sounds easy but in 36 degree heat and with no diggers, cement mixers or electric tools, it was hard going!
I’m happy to report we did complete our project, much to the delight of the children and nurses at the Maison (who kept adding to our list of jobs). Now our fundraising drive continues.
How you can help
Haiti is beautiful, full of very proud people who are keen to make their lives and country better. Hope Health Action is a crucial part of this and they couldn’t work without the support of volunteers like me and donations.
If you want to learn more about HHA you can visit https://hopehealthaction.org/. And if you would like to donate to our fundraising please visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/hammerson75