The maternity unit at Beaumont hospital in Grand’ Anse, Haiti, lies in ruin.
Smashed glass carpets the delivery rooms, water drips in from holes in the ceiling and papers and medical instruments are scattered across the floor.
The scene represents the crippling position in which Haiti finds itself since being hit by Hurricane Matthew in early October.
Miss Casimir, a midwife at Hôpital Saint-Antoine de Jérémie in Grand’ Anse, describes her experience as Matthew’s 233k m/h winds battered the ward where she was working.
“There was lots of rain and wind. There wasn’t any electricity at the hospital. I did everything with a torch. Repairs, stitches…”
After suffering a devastating magnitude 7 earthquake in 2010, Matthew is the second natural disaster to hit in under a decade and has plunged the recovering country into crisis.
Challenges facing Haiti
With United Nations figures estimating the number of Haitians in need of help at 1.4 million, they have announced that a “massive response” in terms of aid is required.
The race to get help to the worst-affected regions, such as Grand’ Anse, is essential in combatting outbreaks of tetanus, diphtheria and, in particular, cholera – levels of which have tripled in some areas (OCHA sitrep).
Support in Haiti
As well as the need for outside aid, support networks in Haiti itself are proving vital in helping communities to recover.
With the risk of gender-based violence increasing in the wake of Matthew, particularly within displaced populations OCHA sitrep, women’s groups have been established in some areas to give women the opportunity to gather together.
The Dame Marie women’s group is one of such support networks.
It is primarily an economic livelihood-based group, where women can learn about agriculture and fishing, but also provides a support structure and space to address other issues like gender-based violence.
The groups provide a much-needed tower of strength in a time of great instability for many in Haiti