Articles like this pull at the hearts of well-meaning Americans. But we usually feel frustration that leads quickly to forgetting, since itâ€™s hard to know what to do. For Haitiâ€™s 8+ million people, solutions are critical and the truly effective ones are scarce.
However, there are organizations and programs at work right now in Haiti, and it isnâ€™t difficult to assess which ones hold real hope. One of those far-reaching solutions is the first 4-year baccalaureate nursing program in Haiti, the Faculty of Nursing Science of the Episcopal University of Haiti (FSIL) in Leogane. Built with funds from USAID ASHA (American Schools & Hospitals Abroad) and the Medical Benevolence Foundation of the Presbyterian Church USA, it is a jewel in the midst of desperate conditions. Right now 98 young Haitian men and women attend FSIL, with the first class graduating in January 2009. Already their knowledge and skill are having an impact in their communities.
Most Haitians will die by the age of 50 from such preventable (or treatable) causes as malaria, malnutrition, hypertension, diabetes, cervical cancer, measlesâ€¦the list goes on. Consider how many of these could be addressed by well-educated nurses whoâ€™ve been specially trained to diagnose, problem solve, and treat the particular health issues of their people. We think we have a shortage of nurses; multiply that by 52 times for Haitians.
With 66% unemployment and per capita income averaging $1800, few Haitian families can afford to send a child to FSIL, even though tuition is only about $800/year. The cost for all expenses for one student including tuition, room and board, uniforms, books and supplies, and travel to clinical sites totals $3000 yearly â€” a small amount by our standards. Nearly every student at FSIL needs financial aid. A U.S. nonprofit, Haiti Nursing Foundation, raises money for these expenses, and hopes to expand the school and similar programs in the future. Hereâ€™s where an American family or business or foundation can see their contributions go directly to a long-term solution to the suffering of millions of people in their own hemisphere.
There are other worthy missions and projects working effectively in Haiti. Give us at least a glimpse of these innovative solutions when you present a horrifying situation like people eating dirt cookies 500 miles from the abundance in the U.S. Please.
These trained nurses will unquestionably save lives and relieve suffering. They deserve our financial support.