Haiti six months on: promoting public health

Emergencies article written on the 19 Jul 2010

Six months after the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12 there has been no major outbreak of disease – in large part thanks to the efforts of organisations like Oxfam in promoting public health and hygiene.

One entertaining way we’ve been able to get the message out is through theatre. We partner with Staff Men Nou”, which means “Team Here We Are” in French Creole, a local organisation which travels from camp to camp performing plays which teach people good public health practices, and bring children some laughs along the way.

Their play tells the story of two men living in a camp in the Haitian capital who are careless about their personal hygiene. They never wash their hands and pick food straight up off the floor and put it in their mouths if it catches their eye.

Meanwhile on the other side of town a young doctor, called Joanne, is arguing with her father, who is a millionaire. He insists that Joanne should go abroad, arguing that the earthquake has destroyed all her prospects in Haiti. She refuses and says that she is determined to stay as her country needs her now more than ever.

Hundreds of people have turned out to watch the play – these photos are from a camp that was once the site of a five-star hotel in down town Port au Prince, that is now home to 2,000 people whose houses were damaged or destroyed during the earthquake. As well as hygiene promotion, Oxfam provides latrines in the camp.