by Amelia Muccio and Chris Broughton-Bossong
Dye mon, gen mon. For Haitians, the proverb “beyond the mountains, more mountains” illustrates the frequent challenges they face as a population all too familiar with poverty, political turmoil, natural disasters and deadly disase outbreaks. The January 2010 Haitian earthquake left more than 300,000 dead and 1.5 million homeless. This was another “mountain” for the people of Haiti—and its animals.
As 2012 begins, the situation for animals in Haiti looks much better than it did on that fateful day when the earthquake struck. Over the past 24 months, HSI has developed and implemented five initiatives on the island:
- Street dog welfare
- Equine/pack animal welfare
- Veterinary training
- Disaster preparedness
- The development of Haiti’s first veterinary care center
The pilot programs for our field-based projects and the numerous subsequent street dog and working equine welfare clinics we have offered have succeeded in gaining the attention and interest of Haiti’s veterinarians and have been well-received by local citizens. As a result, the number of animals reached at each field clinic continues to grow.
Gaining government support was key to creating seed projects that would develop into long-term, sustainable endeavors. Today, we work hand-in-hand with Ministry officials to plan and implement our veterinary trainings, our ongoing street dog sterilization programs and the equine and pack animal welfare projects that we host at open air markets across the island.
Filling a need
Earlier this year, HSI completed the construction and outfitting of the Haiti Animal Welfare Center and Clinic (HAWC), a first-of-its-kind facility. Once a dilapidated hotel, it now houses our staff and visiting veterinary teams and serves as a base for many of our trainings. It is also home to a clinic offering low-cost veterinary care for animals belonging to the general public and for any strays in need.
Perhaps one of our greatest advancements in 2011 was the transition to a full-time, Haitian-led team in-country. As part of that process, Jean Claude Cesaire, a Haitian agronomist we have been working with since he served as a translator at our first spay/neuter training, assumed the position of Haiti Field Operations Manager, and Dr. Jean Pierre Emile (DVM), who attended several HSI trainings as a veterinary field representative for the Ministry of Agriculture, joined our team as HAWC Clinic Manager. Their insights, expertise and connections are invaluable to furthering our efforts for animals throughout Haiti.
HSI is dedicated to the establishment of sustainable, capacity-enhancing projects wherever we work. Our presence in Haiti began in the crucible of tragedy, but has evolved into a channel of opportunity thanks to the dedication and resilience of our local partners. As Haitians will tell you, this will not be the last “mountain” they face, but despite life’s many challenges, they will always find a way to persevere. Give now to support our disaster response fund.
HSI would like to acknowledge the generous support of our donors who made these projects in Haiti possible. HSI would also like to thank our invaluable partners: Best Friends Animal Society, Christian Veterinary Mission (CVM), and La Fédération des Associations Francophones de Vétérinaires pour Animaux de Compagnie (FAFVAC).
Amelia Muccio is Director, Haiti Project and Disaster Operations and Chris Broughton-Bossing is Haiti Training Manager for HSI.