Nieuwe hoop voor Haïti

NEW YORK – Tijdens een recent bezoek aan de plattelandsgemeente Los Palmas op Haïti was ik in de gelegenheid gesprekken te voeren met families die rechtstreeks getroffen waren door de choleraepidemie die het land na de aardbeving van 2010 teistert. Eén man zei dat de ziekte niet alleen het leven van zijn zuster had geëist, maar dat ook zijn schoonmoeder was omgekomen tijdens de urenlange wandeling naar het dichtstbijzijnde ziekenhuis. Hij en zijn vrouw zorgen nu voor vijf verweesde neven en nichten.

Verhalen zoals deze zijn op het hedendaagse Haïti niet ongebruikelijk. Duizenden mensen in het hele land hebben soortgelijke beproevingen en tragedies doorstaan.

Maar er zijn ook tekenen van hoop. Steeds meer inspanningen van de gemeente en veranderingen in de aanpak van de hygiëne hebben de mannen, vrouwen en kinderen van Los Palmas en het buurdorp Jacob van cholera bevrijd – een dramatische ommekeer in vergelijking met de afgelopen jaren – en het risico verminderd op het oplopen van door vervuild water overgebrachte ziekten. Eén familie die ik bezocht liet mij bijvoorbeeld trots een nieuw waterfilter zien.

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