Emergency Grassroots Cholera Campaign
On October 19th, we received a text message from a contact in Port-au-Prince alleging that cholera had begun to kill people in the Artibonite Valley, Haiti’s heartland. The next day the American Embassy issued a warning to all American citizens in Haiti to take extreme precautions with water, seafood and produce originating in the Artibonite. On Thursday morning, the president of Haiti’s Medical Association, Dr. Claude Surena, told the French press that tests confirmed the presence of cholera, but it wasn’t until late that afternoon that the Government of Haiti made an official announcement that cholera had indeed been found in the countryside north of Port-au-Prince.
While the UN and OCHA waited until Saturday to hold their first cluster meeting in response to the cholera outbreak, and most major agencies including the Red Cross waited until the following Monday to begin educating their community health agents, Let Haiti Live and BKNG decided to launch an immediate campaign on Friday, October 22. With a rented pick up truck and sound system, BKNG carried out a two week campaign to raise awareness about cholera and educate people about how to prevent the spread and protect their families. BKNG created a simple educational flyer and message, and distributed over 300,000 copies in 15 communities and 50 camps. At the same time, the American Red Cross, which has hundreds of millions of dollars, didn’t distribute even 50,000 in that first week.