Capacity building in Haiti strenghtens communities and the Red Cross

January 11, 2017

Story by Esther Vigne and Pierre-Paul Ancion

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The Canadian Red Cross has been supporting the Haitian Red Cross for more than a decade. Together, they have carried out numerous projects to help the most vulnerable.

In accordance with the priorities identified by the Haitian Red Cross, the partnership has strengthened its community health capacity and leveraged its volunteer network to minimize disaster risks and prepare it to respond quickly and effectively in case of emergency.

The Canadian Red Cross has focused on training Haitian Red Cross volunteers who work in their communities and enabled the organization to build long-term relationships with its supporters.

One of the flagship projects of this collaboration is the community-based health and first aid program.

“Health is one of the Haitian Red Cross’ areas of focus, and the programs are run by young people, by the next generation,” said Ossé Emmanuel Recule, a Haitian Red Cross regional coordinator in the Southeast region.

Thanks to the program training, Haitian Red Cross volunteers now have the skills to educate their communities on the importance of prevention and better hygiene practices, which has led to improved outcomes.

“Thanks to the support of the Canadian Red Cross, young volunteers got involved and were trained across the Southeast Department — in Lafond, Séguin, Marbial, Ternier and La Vallée-de-Jacmel and are now able to provide health support to their respective communities,” added Recule. “For example, they are responsible for cholera awareness and prevention, people look to them as leaders, and they can advise and support sick people in a health centre and, if needed, at a hospital.”

Canadian Red Cross training also helps the Haitian Red Cross build loyalty among its volunteers, who proudly support the organization’s mission.

Jacques Enson, 22, was one of the people who was trained by the Red Cross.

“Once one person steps up, others follow. The country needs young volunteers for our communities to grow,”  said Enson. “The message I want to send to all the volunteers is to encourage them to keep on doing this work despite the difficulties, we need to encourage young people to participate so we can make sure we have the means to respond when someone is facing hardship.”

Ernst Jean, a Haitian Red Cross executive officer in the Southeast, is very proud of the Canadian Red Cross’ accomplishments and support in his area.

“Our volunteer numbers are growing, the Red Cross is becoming more popular and people are mobilizing,” said Jean. With the support of the Canadian Red Cross, our regional committee created volunteer groups in communities to share their health tools and knowledge.”

Jean noted that the community health and first aid program has sparked innovation. For example, a volunteer manual was created to ensure thorough and consistent training across teams.

“The program enabled us to build people’s knowledge of health issues that affect their communities. I am proud to have been involved in the project,” said Jean.

For more information about the Red Cross’ efforts in Haiti and to learn about our progress, see our Haiti: Seven Years After the Earthquake report.