Archive for the ‘Caribbean’ category

How U.S. and Jamaican Doctors are Saving Jamaica’s Youngest Heart Patients

May 1, 2009

Until the middle of the 20th Century, heart attacks seldom occurred in Jamaica. But in recent years, the rate of heart disease has risen to the point where it is now the number one cause of death on an annual basis in the Caribbean country. Unfortunately, this includes children as well. In fact, the number of children with congenital heart problems in Jamaica is increasing rather than decreasing.

In response to this alarming issue, the Jamaican Children’s Heart Fund was established in connection with the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital (JDCH) in Hollywood, Florida. The fund sponsors a team of JDCH volunteer cardiac surgical doctors and nurses who provide free open heart surgery to children in Jamaica whose families cannot afford the expensive procedure. During their missions, the teams work with Jamaican doctors and medical staff to care for their young patients.

The fund is a 501C3 non-profit charity and has been active in Jamaica for 13 years.

In addition to providing free heart surgeries, the fund’s medical staff serves as strong advocates for children’s health care in the country. But perhaps more importantly, the staff is working side-by-side with Jamaican doctors, sharing ideas and learning from each other professionally while working to ease a serious, growing condition in Jamaica.

Note: As it gears up for its 2009 fund raising efforts, the Jamaican Children’s Heart Fund welcomes for the first time since its existence, recognition from a Jamaican government official as Jamaica’s ambassador to the United States, His Excellency, the Honorable Anthony Johnson, will act as the honorary guest speaker at the fund’s Mother’s Day weekend benefit event to be held in the Orlando, Florida area.

Can Ecotourism Save Haiti?

April 15, 2009

Spider Lily – Haiti, originally uploaded by alan2onion.

As the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, Haiti’s troubles have escalated due to political instability, poor living conditions, natural disaster and perhaps a bit of donor fatigue. However, recently the country has made it back into the international spotlight with global donors agreeing this week to pledge $324 million in aid to the impoverished Caribbean nation.

There is no doubt that such aid is desperately needed, but the question still remains: What can Haiti to do save itself?

The obvious thing would be to look at Haiti’s past. Before political turmoil hit the country, it was a popular tourist destination and a common stop for many Caribbean cruise lines. The remains of gorgeous beach resorts still exist in the country today, but few are open for business. Will they ever reopen their doors? Can tourism make a come-back in Haiti and serve as a self-sustainable means of development?

Yes, voices familiar with Haiti’s situation say, especially when it comes to the potential ecotourism brings as the nature and wildlife in Haiti could attract many visitors hoping to observe and help save the country’s threatened ecosystems. But much needs to be done in preparation before such a venture becomes a reality. (more…)

Putting Haiti Back on the Radar Through Volunteerism and International Awareness

March 11, 2009

Haiti is one of those countries that tends to fall off the international radar – unless something bad happens, such as a hurricane, civil unrest or political corruption. Otherwise, as the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere, the country seems to symbolize what happens when a nation undergoes donor fatigue. Over the years, the world has continuously poured money into the country only to see little progress being made…and so we forget that Haiti even exists.

As one who has spent time in Haiti in the past, I have noticed that while foreign aid organizations or government assistance quietly come and go, it is volunteerism at the grassroots level that keeps the country afloat. I’m talking about volunteer work groups, mostly coming from the U.S., who pair up with local organizations or individuals to pitch in where they can.

I haven’t been to Haiti since 2000, but from my recollection, these volunteers consist of church groups, college work teams (I remember crossing paths with some students from Chatham College) and visiting physicians who bring with them their own team of experts. (The Peace Corps also operates in Haiti.) (more…)

Editor’s Pick: palabras sin fronteras

February 13, 2009

Every once in a while we’ll showcase a blog that has caught our interest in the hopes that it will catch our readers’ interest as well.

While getting wonderfully lost in the World Wide Peace Corps Blog Directory (seen on the sidebar), I stumbled across this gem from the Dominican Republic: palabras sin fronteras (also added to our sidebar).

Warning: Do not start to read this blog unless you have time to spare because if you’re like me, once you start, you may not stop.

Written by a self-described “non returnable Peace Corps volunteer,” the unique thing about “palabras” is that it goes beyond the simple recording of a typical day-in-the-life-of a PCV. It’s written in a romanticized and magical style reminiscent of great writers such as Salmon Rushdie.

In fact, this blogger can make a mention of “explosive diarrhea” (an unfortunate reality all former and current Peace Corps volunteers are familiar with), sound like an excerpt from a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel – or at least artfully and humorously connect the two:

When the viajita died, her children commenced to cry a flood of tears, inundating the only bridge out of town, leaving them isolated in their mourning, from the velorio to the funeral 9 days later. It was like something out of a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel. I wish I had so eloquent a way to describe having 9 days of explosive diarrhea while the latrine’s flooded.

Written in small, but very poetic paragraphs, each dedicated to its own story about life in the Dominican Republic through the eyes of one Peace Corps volunteer, “palabras” makes for an addicting read.