Direct Aid to People in Haiti

UAF Reaches Jeremie and the Mountain Paths

The United Aid Foundation team of volunteers hit the Haitian dirt running over the weekend.

First heading to Jeremie, the coastal community hardest hit by Hurricane Matthew.

“If you ever want to peak into the gates of hell, the city of Jeremie is the place to begin,” said Mike Wnek, a UAF board member and the leader of our project in Haiti.

“Entire stretches of coastline were obliterated.”

Jeremie, Haiti

Jeremie, Haiti

Wnek and his crew delivered food and water to families in need in Jeremie, but noted there is a lot of international aid pouring into the traditional tourist area. So he and the team headed up into the mountain areas to help those who hadn’t been reached yet.

“So many people had their roofs blown off, losing virtually all of the few possessions they had,” Wnek noticed.

Most Haitians are scrambling to find food and clean water. Many haven’t eaten in nearly a week. Children are suffering. Cholera, due to water contamination is a constant worry.

Hospitals are full of the injured and sick. Many of those killed by Matthew had to be buried quickly in mass graves.

An extended family welcomes aid after losing their home

An extended family welcomes aid after losing their home

Yet despite circumstances that seem bleak, Wnek said the Haitian people are helping each other and doing their best to recover.

UAF volunteer Cenovio Villa delivers food to a woman taking care of 14 family members

UAF volunteer Cenovio Villa delivers food to a woman taking care of 14 family members

 

“Even though the damage was phenomenal, the spirit and resilience of the Haitians is amazing,” Wnek said. They are already cleaning up, opening the small roadside stands, music is playing in some areas.”

 

The UAF team delivered more than 8-thousand pounds of rice, 2-thousand pounds of beans, cooking oil and water. The response was smiles, handshakes, gratitude and prayers.

Mike Wnek with hurricane survivor Ramone Francois, 90-years old.

Mike Wnek with hurricane survivor Ramone Francois, 90-years old.

That’s what keeps volunteers going ¬†as they travel the difficult roads of Haiti.

 

 

Giving Ugandan girls hope for dignity & education

Mary Jane Alex gives a talk on hygiene to girls in Uganda

By UAF board member Mary Jane Alex

Who knew a simple pair of cotton underwear could make such a big difference?

Girls in Uganda often do not go to school for parts of each month. Many drop out altogether because they lack the feminine products we often take for granted here. 

Periods are not a priority.

As a medical professional, I believe the workings of the human body are pretty darn cool. I don’t want any girl to be ashamed of or limited by the biology that makes them a woman.

When I signed up to travel with Medical Missions Foundation to Uganda last fall, I started thinking about a project to get involved with.

I knew I would be working in the clinic doing Malaria testing but I wanted to do something more.

 I saw the postings on Facebook about crayons and toys and dresses for cute little kids, all great and wonderful donations! 

But, my mind went to the teenage girls. Was there something we could do for them? 
UAF board member and Uganda mission director, Abby Hayo, sent me a link to a product called Afripads

Wow. I had no clue there was such a thing as reusable pads and they were made right there in Uganda. 

But… girls must have underwear to use them. In Uganda, girls often don’t even own one pair.  
UAF donated the first $500.00 and we were on our way to making every day of the month a good one for many Ugandan girls.

Then, other volunteers with the medical mission got to work in their respective communities collecting hundreds of pairs underwear, soap and washcloths. They even named the effort, “Rounding Up Undies”.

I am thrilled to say my co-workers at New York Presbyterian Hospital joined people from various companies and nonprofits to donate underwear, bars of soap and over $2,000 in cash.

Afripads only cost $4.00 and can be washed and re-used for up to a year. The goal was to buy 100 Afripads, but we ended up purchasing 600 kits to help girls in Uganda and the country of Mali as well.

Even though I knew they were needed, I didn’t realize what a huge hit the Afripads would be. The girls were so thankful, telling me they could now run, jump and play without fear of accidents or the boys laughing at them!
 
We gave a simple product that all young women deserve to live with dignity and health; they gave us poems, songs and a lot of ovations.   

The joy on their faces was a gift to me. 

I’m proud of this program and want to thank everyone who helped for your support. Another great example of United Aid Foundation partnering with people and organizations all over the world.

This time we are keeping young women healthy, safe and in school. What could be better than that?

Note: Medical Missions Foundation will return to Uganda next month. Volunteers are “rounding up undies” again this year.