Eternal Hope in Haiti (EHIH) is a non-profit Georgia-based corporation created in 1993. The purpose is to provide basic health care and nutritional services to members of the poverty and disease-ridden communities of northern Haiti. EHIH also founded Hope Haven which is an orphanage for medically fragile and/or critically ill children.In 1984, Twilla Haynes, Professor of Nursing, was invited to Cap Haitian, Haiti to assist in providing relief from an outbreak of measles and its complications. The devastating living conditions and generally poor health of the people of Cap Haitian had an indelible impact on Ms. Haynes.Subsequently, Ms. Haynes established a public health nursing course for senior level nursing students, which incorporated trips to Haiti as part of a hands-on learning experience. In 1991, the embargo placed on Haiti exacerbated the poor living conditions, resulting in limited access to the basic needs of life such as food, clean drinking water and access to basic health care services. In 1993, Ms. Haynes and the other members formed EHIH in order to better meet the health care and nutritional needs of Haitian people.In 1996, following another period of political unrest, EHIH opened Hope Haven Orphanage. Many healthcare facilities and orphanages were forced to close due to the deteriorating living conditions. During a time of immediate crisis, with sick children and nowhere to place them, God provided everything needed to start the orphanage.
In the area of healthcare, we continue to make solid progress. In addition to the orphanage, Eternal Hope in Haiti provides primary care in six community clinics around Cap Haitian on a quarterly basis. Over the course of the last year, 7000 people have received care in these clinics. Volunteers care for many conditions from parasitic diarrhea to diabetes. Educating patients about how to care for and even prevent disease in some cases is an integral part of the care provided. After the devastating earthquake in January 2010, Haynes and a core group of dedicated volunteers went to Cap Haitian and assisted with relief efforts. The U.N. relocated some 50,000 people from Port Au Prince to Cap Haitian. Eternal Hope in Haiti was tapped to coordinate the triage center in Cap-Haitian for the influx of quake victims. During this process, EHIH strengthened its relationships with Hospital Justenien, Konbit Sante, the Sisters of the Sacred Heart at Milot, the Mayor’s office, local health care providers, non-governmental organizations, and mission groups. We coordinated the center for a period of six weeks providing care to thousands of quake victims; many of them children who were transported by bus with nothing but the clothes on their back. Since the earthquake, patient load at the community clinics has increased by 30%.Hope Haven Orphanage opened a second site to transition the orphaned children who have no family ties in Cap-Haitian. .
The miracles continue – for example, at Hope Haven children who arrive critically ill heal and grow in a miraculous way. In addition, 40-50% of the children in the orphanage are in the top 10% of their classes despite their illnesses and lack of prior education. The orphanage currently has 60 children and continues to grow. Many of these successes can be attributed to intense intervention during their sickest hours.
According to the World Health Organization, Haiti ranks the worst in the world as far as access to safe water. Eternal Hope in Haiti has assisted three communities gain access to safe water.
All of this is possible largely because of the thousands of volunteers who have shared their time and resources over the years. Haynes’ message is, “if you want to make a difference in the lives of fragile children in the world….get involved, stay active and you will make a difference”.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled and that has made all the difference.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow