* Any views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.
By Sabine Wilke, Communications Manager for CARE Haiti
Sometimes in life, two people's paths cross in the most unexpected way. And sometimes, these encounters can even save a life.
Gonaives, a small coastal town in Northern Haiti, has been one of the most affected areas of the ongoing cholera crisis. Blondine has been working 24/7 ever since the epidemic started. She is a nurse for CARE's health programme and is responsible for an HIV/AIDS support network. But now her days are filled with cholera. CARE sends out prevention messages through radio stations and local volunteers, delivers medical items to hospitals and coordinates with the other aid organisations involved in the response. Last week, Blondine and her team have trained 80 more volunteers to inform their communities about how to best protect themselves against the microscopic but lethal bacterium.
Meanwhile, the health centres in and around Gonaives are overflowing with cholera cases and most of them do not take other cases anymore. This is why it is so crucial to establish so called CTCs' cholera treatment centers, which can be set up next to a hospital but ensure that the cholera cases are isolated from the other patients. This is already underway in the Centre de Diagnostique Integrï¿½ de Raboteau, a hospital in Gonaives. CARE will organize the disinfection of the main building once all the cholera patients have been moved. Blondine is here to check on the progress and talk to the nurses and doctors. Depending on the needs, CARE will also provide IV-Sets, lactate ringer solution and liquid antibiotics to the health centre.
Maxime Eliano is only 22 years old, but at the moment he looks like an old man. His skinny body is cramped on an old makeshift hospital bed in the hallway of the building. His eyes are hollow and his body weakened by the dehydration. Turns out, Maxime is a Disc jockey for a local radio station. And for the town festival "Fete de la Patrimoine de Gonaives" at the beginning of November, he was on a special mission. The CARE team led by Blondine had put in extra hours to prepare a CD with cholera prevention messages and gave it to several DJs in town. During the celebrations, these messages would be spread via intercom from music trucks to reach as many people as possible. There was no time to hire a professional speaker to record the messages, so Blondine grabbed the microphone herself.
And this is where their paths crossed. Maxime was one of the DJs putting CARE's prevention record on spin during the festival. And when he himself developed symptoms of cholera about two weeks later, he knew exactly what was going on: Abdominal pains, diarrhoea, vomiting the DJ did not have to think twice and made the right choice. He went straight to the hospital and got life-saving treatment. He might still look very weak, but his chances for full recovery are very good. And now here is Blondine standing beside his bed. The woman whose voice might just have saved this DJ's life&