Friends of the Orphans' Haitian Efforts Challenged By Cholera and Hurricane Aftermath

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Renewed chaos in Haiti prompts organization to issue plea for additional donations and support to continue serving thousands still in need of assistance.

"The challenges faced by Fr. Rick and his team in Haiti are unimaginable. Rather than succumb to them, he rises above them and seems even to be energized by the enormity of it all." --Sharon Saxelby, CEO of Friends of the Orphans

Many things have become clear about Haiti to priest and physician Fr. Rick Frechette. Daily life is unpredictable and unforgiving. The recent Cholera outbreak, combined with the resulting flooding and wind damage of Hurricane Tomas, has once again tested his resolve and the future of thousands of children and adults just beginning to recover from January’s 7.0 magnitude earthquake. There is still critical work to be done.

“The challenges faced by Fr. Rick and his team are unimaginable,” said Sharon Saxelby, CEO of Friends of the Orphans, the United States nonprofit that supports Fr. Rick’s work. “Rather than succumb to them, he rises above them and seems even to be energized by the enormity of it all.”

Fr. Rick, the National Director of Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos/Nos Petits Frères et Soeurs (NPH/NPFS, Spanish and French for “Our Little Brothers and Sisters”), in Haiti, manages a growing mission that encompasses two orphanages, a children’s hospital, schools, outreach medical clinics, and more. Since January, the programs have directly assisted more than 76,000 people.

Frechette frequently provides updates and insight to Friends of the Orphans supporters in the U.S. in hopes of highlighting the need for continued financial support as they face yet another setback.

Writing about Mother Nature’s latest punch Frechette said, “We have been working hard against Cholera. We drove through four high and strong rivers to get to Port-de-Paix to help the sisters (Missionaries of Charity). We found about 20 half-dead people all along the seven-hour drive. They were severely dehydrated.”

He continued, “We gave IV fluids all along the way, pulling the people into our trucks and leaving one truck by the Marcel River to be a temporary IV station.”

The United Nations reported on Nov. 12 that over 11,000 Haitians have been hospitalized with Cholera and more than 800 have died. Fr. Rick said, “There are more and more cases in Port-au-Prince. We are ready to receive up to 400 Cholera patients next to our St. Luke Hospital when Doctors Without Borders, our neighbors, have no more space.”

Friends of the Orphans and NPH/NPFS knows that the challenges are great due to these recent circumstances.

One of the most dangerous aspects of Cholera, an infection of the small intestine, is the resulting dehydration from the vomiting and diarrhea. Many affected need between five and eight liters of IV fluid each, at a cost of $2 per liter, to reverse the loss of fluid. Since the outbreak, NPH/NPFS has provided thousands of IV liters as well as Gatorade, clean water, mattresses, snacks and other supplies such as buckets, hoses, towels, toothbrushes and septic tanks to various medical facilities and temporary aid stations to help patients.

One of the most effective treatments for infants and young children in whom a traditional IV is difficult is an alternate type of catheter, called intraosseous needle placement. Placed directly into the bone, intraosseous infusion is an effective emergency route when venous access cannot be rapidly established.

“These IV bone catheters are what we need most because in children who are severely dehydrated, it is nearly impossible to find a vein for a traditional IV,” Fr. Rick explained. “However, the drills that allow us to place them into the bone are very expensive, and the catheters are $100 each. We need about four more drills and 1,000 catheters for starters. Even with the discounts we get, we still need about $90,000 total to buy these items.”

Saxelby said, “The continued struggle of the Haitian community, still reeling from the Jan. 12 earthquake, as they now face Cholera and the hurricane aftermath is almost too much to comprehend.”

“We are grateful for all of our volunteers and staff on the ground in Haiti and the generosity of our donors here in the U.S. Every dollar counts.”

To donate to Friends of the Orphans, please visit http://www.friendsoftheorphans.org/cholera
or call 1.888.201.8880.

About Friends of the Orphans
A 40-year-old nonprofit organization with regional offices in six states, Friends of the Orphans supports the network of Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH, Spanish for “Our Little Brothers and Sisters”) homes and their outreach programs in Latin America and the Caribbean. Together, Friends of the Orphans and NPH transform the lives of orphaned, abandoned and disadvantaged children by creating families for life through values of unconditional love, shared responsibility and education. This enables children to transcend poverty and grow into caring and productive members of their communities.
Since its founding in 1954, NPH has assisted nearly 16,000 children and currently cares for more than 3,600 in Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru. In 2009, NPH outreach programs, including the only free pediatric hospital in Haiti, assisted 83,000 children and adults. By making a difference in the lives of the children through volunteer and donation opportunities, our supporters’ lives are enhanced as well. For more information about Friends of the Orphans, please visit http://www.friendsoftheorphans.org.

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Blair Ciecko

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