Go Kits, Tents Bring Relief for Public Health Workers in Haiti
Like everyone who survived Haiti’s massive earthquake, Marie Michelle Paris has a story to tell. A CDC secretary working out of the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Paris had just left work that day when the earth began to shake.
“I had left the office and passed my son’s school so we were in the street when it happened,” Paris said. “I thought it was the end of the world.”
She was not alone. The earthquake killed as many as 230,000 Haitians, and left more than 1.1 million more displaced. Fear gripped the city in the days that followed, and as many foreigners fled Haiti for the safety of their home countries, Haitians like Paris sought help where they could find it as aid agencies around the world began to mobilize. For Paris, much needed support came from the CDC Foundation, which provided emergency Go Kits to Haitian public health workers as they dealt with their own personal tragedies. The kits, funded by the CDC Foundation’s Global Disaster Response Fund, included critical supplies that made a real difference for Paris and her family.
“In the kit they sent to us we found a flashlight and some batteries,” Paris says. “There was powdered juice, baby wipes and diapers.”
In a darkened city, with many people sleeping outside for fear of another quake, the kits provided a measure of deep comfort, Paris says. Within weeks, the CDC Foundation also provided tents, which for Paris, her husband and young son, proved to be a turning point after the trauma of the earthquake.
“The supplies we received were very helpful,” Paris said. “Now I can sleep well. Since I received a tent that closes I can sleep even when it rains.”
After just a few days, Paris returned to work with the Embassy, and soon rejoined CDC as it geared up for widespread surveillance and response efforts.
“Now when I am working I am busy,” Paris says, “And that helps to take the bad memories away.”
Five weeks after the quake, Paris and her family were still sleeping outside, sharing their home with 20 family members who lost their own homes – all of them still afraid to sleep indoors. Asked what she would say to those who contributed to the CDC Foundation’s Global Disaster Response Fund, she pauses for only a moment before answering.
“I would first say thank you, because they just contributed to help people,” Paris says. “If others contribute, they can help people who face things like we faced. I am so thankful.”
More stories, photos and video about CDC's response efforts in Haiti: infocus.cdcfoundation.org