THE BLOG

'Cholera Excludes No One': Nurse Christine's Story

17/03/2017 13:51

When Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti, killing thousands of people and causing widespread devastation, Nurse Christine Casimir accepted the call to help without hesitation.

A dedicated professional with more than ten years of nursing experience, she is known to the local residents of her hometown as "Mamie": an affectionate term meaning 'grandmother', but Christine's determination to help others stems from a more personal cause. It was during the earthquake six years ago that Christine's seven-year-old child was killed.

At the time, Christine was working with International Medical Corps' mobile medical teams, treating earthquake victims and cholera patients.

"I was especially shocked at the number of child victims," Christine said.

Following her work with International Medical Corps in 2010, Christine decided to step back from first responder duties to recover from the physical and psychological exhaustion which comes after such demanding work - but she continued working tirelessly with Haitian institutions, training nurses and coordinating with universities to promote the mobile health clinic model.

On October 4th disaster struck Haiti yet again.

In addition to taking hundreds of lives and causing widespread destruction, Hurricane Matthew brought with it the deadly threat of cholera, with infections rising fast throughout Haiti's southern areas - leading health experts to fear a new epidemic, similar to that which killed over 9,000 people in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake.

Shortly after the hurricane struck, Christine was invited to join International Medical Corps' Emergency Response Team by her former colleagues. The team had set up a base of operations on Haiti's southern peninsula in Les Cayes - Christine's hometown.

Once again, Christine felt personally invested in helping her community.

"Cholera excludes no one - but it is the poor and the vulnerable who suffer the most."

A medical team quickly set up a temporary cholera treatment unit (CTU) to treat cholera patients while the water, sanitation and hygiene team planned a larger facility behind the health clinic. Christine works in the CTU every day, rotating between day and night shifts. On top of that, she uses her spare time to travel around town to provide urgent medical care for people unable to travel to the clinic.

"I like the way International Medical Corps works on the ground," Christine said. "Their teams are really dedicated and take special care of children and patients. The organisation is committed to spending the time needed, and being there to help people."

In addition to the work on Haiti's southern peninsula, International Medical Corps - with support from the European Union - has been working in the north of the country since early 2016, responding to cholera outbreaks and deploying mobile medical teams to assist vulnerable communities.

Christine has treated cholera patients of all ages - from three to eighty-four years old. More than 60 patients have received her care since the hurricane, but she knows there is so much more to do and time is limited.

With International Medical Corps, Christine sees a valuable opportunity to address the population's most acute needs while transcending issues like politics or religion.

Nursing is not just a profession or vocation," she believes. "It is a calling, a noble one."

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