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Help for Haiti: returning to the earthquake-stricken island


 - Help for Haiti: returning to the earthquake-stricken island
© Kozak Nick/SIPA
Help for Haiti came from all over the world when the catastrophe engulfed the country on 12th January: millions gave donations and innumerable helpers were swiftly on the spot to offer practical assistance.

One of those helpers was Dr Martina Fuchs, a German physician. She was on the ground doing her job within days of the earthquake striking. Recently, she went back once again because the country now urgently needs people like her.

It was in January 2010 that a magnitude 7.0 earthquake shook Haiti and plunged the people there into misery. The consequences of the catastrophe: over 220,000 dead, 1.3 million homeless, damage estimated at eight billion dollars – far in excess of Haiti’s GDP before the quake.

Having learned from mistakes in the past, the International Community reacted immediately. Both governments and ordinary people donated billions in the first days following the quake. And according to the promise made by 59 countries and institutions at the International Donor Conference held in April the country is to receive an additional total of 9.8 billion dollars over the next ten years. It is money the country desperatly needs to take on its reconstruction.

Money is not everything

However, it is not all. What the poorest country in the world needs just as urgently, is support with efforts on the ground: The sick, the injured and the homeless are still in need of all the basics.

Dr Fuchs first arrived in the Caribbean state just one week after the quake with her organization Real Medicine Foundation. With the collaboration of doctors from all over the world, the team treated sick and injured people, immunized children and set up mobile clinics.

The medics had responded to a spontaneous appeal by the organization, which had come by e-mail: “Who can be in New York the day after tomorrow to fly to Haiti?” Ten doctors signed up straightaway. Since then, the organization has managed to constantly have teams of medical staff on the ground and maintain their work of re-establishing medical care on the island.


Shila Meyer Behjat
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