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No. 1

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2011

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www.medair.org

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Intelligent Giving no.1 ranked international charity

Ending the Long Wait for Safe Water


Editorial

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Thanks to you

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Sector report

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Report from the field

Haiti: One Year On

Children in Crisis

Zimbabwe: Communities at Risk

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Field staff interview Building Homes and a Future

Medair UK Unit 3, Taylors Yard 67 Alderbrook Road London SW12 8AD Tel: +44 (0)20 8772 0100 Fax: +44 (0)20 8772 0101 www.medair.org Photo credits: Images were taken by Medair staff with the exception of : Page 2 © Medair/Rodney Rascona. Sources: Medair, unless otherwise stated. Partners: Funding partners for Southern Sudan European Commission Humanitarian Aid department, CHF (Common Humanitarian Fund), WHO (World Health Organisation), MDTF (Multi Donor Trust Fund), Swiss Solidarity, BSF (Basic Services Fund) Funding partners for Afghanistan European Commission Humanitarian Aid department, MCC/CFGB, UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund), WFP (World Food Programme) Funding partners for Zimbabwe European Commission Humanitarian Aid department Funding partners for Haiti USAID, and supported by Läkarmissionen & ICAP And wonderful private donors like you! Charity registered in England & Wales no. 1056731 Limited Company registered in England & Wales no. 3213889 © Medair 2011

Emma Le Beau, with children in the Pinchinat Camp for displaced persons, Haiti.

Protecting the Most Vulnerable from Ben Paine Development Director, Medair UK As we begin a New Year, Medair News reflects upon the devastating quake that shook Haiti one year ago. Thanks to you, so much has been achieved— thousands of homeless families now sleep in safe shelters. We also report from the Gokwe region of Zimbabwe where Medair will be working to supply safe, clean water to thousands living at risk of water-borne diseases such as cholera. Despite the massive numbers of people who fell ill with the disease in 2008/09, very little has been done to address the underlying problems. Read about our work to protect vulnerable communities and how you can make a life-saving difference. I also want to take this opportunity to thank you for your generous support in 2010. The life-saving help we provide is only possible because of the gifts people like you make. So thank you again for supporting the world’s most vulnerable people. I look forward to what we’ll achieve together this year. With very great thanks,


Thanks to you Nadia’s Story Nadia lives with her partner Bernard in a makeshift camp on scrubland at the edge of Jacmel town. Their home was destroyed in the earthquake, leaving them with little of value. They now live in a small tent, with no safe supply of water, no adequate sanitation, and no electricity. The electric fan Nadia salvaged from the wreckage of her home sits idly in her immaculately kept tent. “There are no latrines here, so the people who live here have to find some bushes to hide behind,” Nadia told us. Without help, Nadia told us she has no hope for the future. To pay for Bernard’s mother’s funeral they had to sell some of their land. Now they work to save money to build a new home. Until then Nadia told us, “I don’t feel safe or comfortable here. Many people have visited but they have not done anything to help.” Thanks to you—Nadia will soon have a house to call her own. Medair is building new homes for the most vulnerable families in this camp.

Nadia washes her laundry in front of her tent at Fond Alexis camp, Haiti.

Haiti: One Year On The construction of transitional shelters is still going strong despite a hurricane, a cholera epidemic, and a national election. With 12 months passed since the largest earthquake, we’ve provided homes for over ten thousand Haitians in Jacmel and Haiti’s South-East District. That’s more than 1,800 transitional shelters built, with an additional 60 going up every week (on average) for people left homeless or forced to live in unsafe shelters. Our approach is to provide transitional shelters which can become permanent housing relatively easily—and are therefore of much greater longterm benefit to the families moving in. The shelters are designed to withstand earthquakes and the Caribbean hurricane season, with metal roofs, timber frames, and concrete foundations.

Protecting the Most Vulnerable Medair’s most recent assessment of living conditions in and around the town of Jacmel reported that thousands of people are living in unofficial camp sites. Unlike the organised camps, there is no access to safe, clean water or adequate sanitation. The unsanitary conditions are a serious risk to health, with increased risk of disease.

Medair Community Mobilisers visited informal sites across Jacmel to identify those families most at risk. Those living in particularly bad conditions were prioritised for new housing—with the aim of building their new homes before Christmas. Thanks to you, thousands of families spent Christmas protected from the elements and with firm foundations in place for a better New Year.

“I am confident that what we are providing for the Haitian people is of substantial quality and will benefit the community in the long term.” John Fixsen, Medair Shelter Project Manager

January | 2011

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Sector report

One-year-old Nematullah is treated by a Medair nurse in Badakhshan.

Children in Crisis Medair works to protect the health of vulnerable children around the world. In a remote village in Southern Sudan, Nurse Rose Achan strode through the early morning air. She was on her way to the local health clinic to begin a day of supervisory work. The year was 2004. As she neared the clinic, Rose stopped suddenly in her tracks. In front of her, she saw a woman in advanced labour, squatting next to a hut, pushing her baby out. There was no one helping her.

Their child was healthy and both parents were full of new hope that their baby would survive. In gratitude, they named their boy Medair.

Rose moved swiftly. “I asked her husband to take her to a neighbour’s house while I rushed to the clinic to collect cotton swabs, gauze, and chlorexidine solution for cleansing,” she said. “Going back to the hut, I found the poor lady struggling in a small corner on a dusty floor, pushing her baby, part of the head being already out.”

With Rose’s assistance, the baby was born safely and cleaned up. Rose then attended to the mother as well. That evening, Rose returned and provided more follow-up care. She sat with the parents, listened to their story, and counselled them on how to care for their newborn son. “The husband told me that he had lost hope in his wife,” said Rose. “Of the four children she’d already

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delivered, three had died at birth and the fourth was disabled.” But two days later, when Rose returned with a new cloth for the baby, the parents welcomed her back with great happiness. Their child was healthy and both parents were full of new hope that their baby would survive. In gratitude, they named their boy Medair.

Surviving Childbirth

At Medair, we bring emergency relief and rehabilitation to the world’s most vulnerable people—and who could be more vulnerable than a newborn infant? Surviving childbirth is just the first of many challenges children face. One in 12 babies dies in the first year of life in Sudan. In Afghanistan, one in seven dies. Medair runs safe motherhood programmes to ensure the safety of both mother and infant at childbirth. We place special emphasis on providing vital training to skilled practitioners who attend the birth. Because of our training programme in West Darfur, for instance, skilled midwives are now present at 24 clinics in the Medair project area, attending more than 6,500 births in 2009.


Sector report Life-Saving Nutrition One-year-old Nematullah had been sick for most of his young life. Unable to hold down food, he grew weaker and thinner. By the time he made it to the Medair stabilisation centre in July 2010, he was severely malnourished. Nematullah’s mother Najibar kept a constant vigil at his bedside in the clinic. “Anything you can do, please do,” she said to Medair staff, eyes never leaving her son. “Six of my children have already died. Only two remain.” In February 2010, Medair began providing life-saving nutritional support for malnourished women and children in Afghanistan while also working to prevent the future onset of malnutrition through education. The team soon established nine nutrition sub-centres in strategic locations throughout Raghistan East district. When the clinic team assessed Nematullah, they found that he had symptoms of reflux, which generally is easily treatable for infants. But in remote Raghistan, very little health care or health education is available for mothers and children. After just one day of treatment, Nematullah’s condition had already begun to improve, with all signs pointing to a full recovery. “The staff have been giving me information about how I can feed my child,” said Najiba. “I am so relieved and happy to be here so that my child can become healthy. I can see the freshness in his eyes already.”

Health Care

The LRA abducted children and forced them to become soldiers or sex-slaves. Many saw their own families murdered; many became murderers themselves. For years, Medair staff worked to provide psychosocial support to thousands of traumatised children—orphans, victims of abuse, and former child soldiers—to help them recover from their ordeal. “With Medair’s programmes and the personal care of our staff, we are trying to help these vulnerable young people get back to living a more normal life,” said Medair’s Michael Wurzner in 2007. “And the greatest thing we can build in them is hope; the hope that they can be like every other child in the world.”

Renewing Hope Children in crisis need advantages they have simply never been given: proper health care, protection from abuse, a decent education. That’s why Medair strives to protect children from illness and abuse while also working to strengthen future generations through capacity building and the promotion of good health and hygiene practices. And through it all, we aim to renew hope for children who have grown up surrounded by such despair. Hope for young Nematullah in the mountains of Afghanistan. And hope for a six-year-old boy somewhere in Southern Sudan named Medair. Hope that these children can have the same chance for a healthy and productive future as our own children in the UK.

Medair provides curative health services for sick children as well as an array of preventative health services to protect children before they get sick. For instance, we distribute mosquito nets to prevent malaria and we vaccinate children against diseases such as polio and measles. Our teams work to improve access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities and we teach children about the importance of good health and hygiene.

Child Abuse Sadly, children in vulnerable countries are at risk from more than just diseases or malnutrition. One of the scariest dangers children face is from people who exploit and prey upon the young. This past decade, northern Uganda lived through one of the most insidious kinds of child abuse at the hands of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). January | 2011

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Report from the field

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A young girl from Gokwe Town scoops water from an unprotected source.


Report from the field

Zimbabwe: Communities at Risk In 2008/09 the people of Zimbabwe experienced one of the largest ever outbreaks of cholera in subSaharan Africa. Almost 100,000 cases were reported with 4,282 deaths. These shocking statistics are not the end of the story. Recent Medair assessments show that the risk of further outbreaks remains extremely high. The team identified communities at risk in and around the Gokwe region, in northwest Zimbabwe. These urban and rural communities contain the main ‘trigger’ factors for a new cholera outbreak—the most important being a desperate lack of safe, clean water. In Gokwe Town, the infrastructure which once supplied water to the whole town has fallen into disrepair. And due to power shortages, the few pumps that work cannot generate enough water for everyone. Out of desperation, people are forced to take water from unprotected and polluted sources, like streams, rivers, and scoop holes dug into dry riverbeds. These unprotected sources are at massive risk of contamination. Faecal matter from humans and animals can run into the water, and each container used for collection is a potential source of pollution.

Building, Restoring, and Teaching To significantly reduce the risk of water-borne diseases like cholera, Medair has developed a plan to restore the water supply in Gokwe Town, build handdug wells in the villages, install rain water harvesting tanks in schools, and pass on the skills to make sure the water keeps flowing for many years to come. As Medair is the only charity working to provide hand-dug wells and the training needed to build and maintain the wells—the project is vital. A gift from you today will help ensure that safe, clean water is provided to thousands of vulnerable people.

Your gift today could help: • Provide a tool kit enabling villages to dig their own wells. • Train local people to build and repair hand-dug wells. • Build rain water harvesting tanks in three local schools.

A Long Wait for Safe, Clean Water Imagine if you turned on the tap at home and no water came out. Could you cope for a day, a week, a month? Sikhatele Nelombe, pictured above, lives with her three children in Mapfungausti community, Gokwe Town. She recently explained the desperate situation she faces everyday to collect water. “I have had no running water for seven years. It takes me 30 minutes to walk to the river and 30 minutes to walk back—I have to do this twice a day.” Every morning Sikhatele and her ten-year-old daughter Samantha walk just over a mile to the river to collect water for drinking, cooking, and washing. The water from the river is dirty, contaminated with faeces from cattle and other waste that washes in during the rainy season. The risk of water-borne disease for Sikhatele and her family is great—but there is currently no alternative, so they must continue to drink water they know can make them ill. Your gift today could help provide Sikhatele, and many others, with safe, clean water for the first time in years. January | 2011

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Field staff interview

Building Homes and a Future Laura Snoxell (pictured right) is the Finance Manager in Jacmel, Haiti. Laura recently talked to Medair News about her role, working as part of the shelter construction team. Can you tell us a bit about where you are working and what it’s like there? We’re working in a poor rural area of southeast Haiti, where thousands of people are living in tents or damaged housing after losing their homes and many more struggle to earn a living. What’s a typical day for you? I make sure that the cash needs for construction and logistics are met and share the work with my finance assistant.

and earthquake resilient, but also helping to build their future. We are definitely reaching the poorest, especially children and widows or single women who are helping to bring up large families on their own. How has working and living in Jacmel changed you? I have done humanitarian work for many years now, but I think that every new culture changes you a little. You also appreciate the basic things in life such as clean water, soap and three meals a day because you know that many of the beneficiaries that you are working with do not have these things.

We are definitely reaching the poorest, especially children and widows.

I enjoy lunch with the national staff and try to learn a few words of Creole every day! What programmes do you have running right now? We’re constructing shelters. So far, as of December 2010, we have built more than 1,800. We also have a substantial Cash-for-Work programme employing up to 400 skilled and semi-skilled labourers working to help build the shelters. How have you seen your work impact the lives of beneficiaries? We are helping to provide people with one of the basic things in life−secure and safe housing that is hurricane

What gives you hope for the people of Haiti? I think the only thing that gives me hope is to know that God cares about the Haitians despite the fact that we can’t always solve all the problems around us. What helps you get through the hard times? There are tough times, but what gets me through is trying to have a good sense of humour. Why did you choose to work for Medair? Because team life is great and those in the team have similar values and goals focused on the poor.

If you would like to find out more about working for Medair, please visit www.medair.org/work-with-us or call the UK office on 020 8772 0100.

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Medair News, Issue 1, 2011