In February we met on La Gonave for the 4th annual summit of NGOs working on the island. This tradition has been invaluable for those of us working on the island and has been the impetus for much collaboration over the last 4 years.

The exciting observations from this year’s meeting?

  1. There were as many (or more) Haitians in attendance as US partners.
  2. Most, if not all, of the programs being presented were being run by Haitians
  3. Island wide collaboration on maternal health and remote prenatal clinics became a reality
  4. Collaboration with the Ministry of Health’s office on La Gonave was solidified.

After one full day of medical practice/program review and two days of general program discussion many left feeling like the prospects for good collaboration and the expansion of healthcare on the island were within our reach.

We had several new NGOs present and participating in the presentations. Some of these included better agricultural practices and community gardens (much needed due to the ongoing drought), a program to promote the safety and welfare of young children on the island, teaching and writing in native language Kreyol,  and the beginning of a school to teach agriculture.

Our own Dr. LaPointe Saintange gave a passionate talk about the value of remote prenatal clinics and how they impact the lives of the women on the island. He offered a challenge to all present to partner with us and help him expand services to the far reaching areas of the island who currently have no access to prenatal care.

It was warmly received and since that time has turned into a vibrant discussion of what it would look like to have a safety net that would allow women to walk to prenatal care near their home villages.

We came home with a long list of work that needed to be done to support these programs and full hearts at the sight of ownership being transferred to the people of La Gonave as they step up to ensure that their neighbors are getting their needs met with dignity and respect.

Sometimes when things are hardest one gets a glimpse of the “promised land.” This meeting was one of those times. Thanks to all who participated in good faith and to all who support these programs.

Deb Griffin

For the partnership