Health Promotion Through Sonje Ayiti

The targets of SAO nutrition project are the rural pregnant women and children under 23 months old living in the remote and mountainous areas of Grande Rivière du Nord and Bahon, 25-30 miles to the SE of Cap-Haitien.  Working with the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) and the local hospital staff and administration, we divided up the entire surrounding communities into smaller grids, provided essential training for 20+ Community Health Workers (CHW) who have since gone out into their assigned areas to assess and evaluate the various community needs and identified the target families.  That data helped us design a program of services that enhanced the entire community’s capacity to deliver quality health and nutrition services to the most vulnerable.


The program has already delivered quality preventive and curative nutrition services, such as community management of acute malnutrition (CMAM) through locally-managed health centers, and on community levels using local foods and several tons of Medika Mamba, a ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF).  The over-riding theme for the program:  “Empowering My Mother Assures My Development”, has touched the lives of over a 1,000 mothers and children in the brief history of this program.  These women and many more have benefited from their new family gardens planted and reaping a harvest, the goat exchange program adding milk, protein and income to struggling mountain families, as well as the recent gift of nearly 350 egg-laying chickens donated at Christmas by the children of Glen Oak Elementary School located in the northern suburbs of Columbus, Ohio. 

Thousands of those mountain villagers are praying that the program can find the additional funding necessary to sustain the program for the next several years until all the at-risk children and mothers have gained sufficient strength to thrive on their own.  The program has always worked towards providing sustainable,  agricultural resources that will, given the proper time and management/support,mature to help provide each of the families healthy and abundant food through their home and community gardens, goat/rabbit/chicken crops as well as the development of a managed health network through the continued services of the Community Health Workers.

Since 2014 Sonje Ayiti and Meds & Food for Kids are implementing a malnutrition clinic for moderately and severely malnourished children in the vicinity north of Bahon following the guidelines of the MSPP for Outpatient management of moderate and severe malnutrition with Ready-To-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF). The children are seen in Bahon . Malnutrition treatment is offered to children one day per week with the nurse and the Agent Santé in attendance for each clinic.

 Your prayers, partnership help and financial support can insure that this program can continue on through its growth cycle so that it can maintain the great benefits on its own, and lift up another Haitian community

There have been times when we have seen the need to assist the MSSP / Ministry of Health to disseminate important health-related information.  We recruited, screened, hired and trained our Community Health Promoters (CHP) for specific tasks within the communities involved, with each specific CHP given a specific quadrant of families, giving us a complete community coverage.  One of our early programs was to equip and train our CHP team to work in and around the Limonade area training each family how to combat the spread of cholera through proper hygiene, washing and water-gathering techniques.  Additional programs enabled us to set upset up 16 Oral Rehydration Ports (ORP) and traveled around each community on home visits to again pass out Aquatabs, and filtering equipment, as well as making a concerted effort to sensitize the population about the importance of maintaining safe drinking water for the community.  On another occasion they held local area meetings to share important information concerning the dangers of HIV/AIDS infections, how they are passed on, prevention techniques, as well as information on STD’s and how women can negotiate with their partners to “just say no” and still maintain healthy relationships.

 There is still a great deal of work that our CHP can do to help with similar health-related issues that impact the families and communities in northern Haiti.  SAO is working on a quarterly continuing education program for their CHP staff to better train them in basic first aid, medical health information sharing, blood pressure / heart rate / body temperature readings, as well as a variety of other health-related issues that would enable them to be more useful to the local Ministry of Health in their screening and assessment programs.  As with other Sonje Ayiti projects/programs we are currently seeking medical and financial partners to help to recruit, train and pay the salaries of these essential community servants.  

Francis Wray