FFTP, USAID & Airlink Provide Humanitarian Air Bridge for Haiti Cholera Response
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (April 26, 2023) Food For The Poor (FFTP) partnered with USAID and Airlink to deliver emergency relief supplies to Haiti through a massive humanitarian air bridge to Port-au-Prince in response to a cholera outbreak.
The supplies sent to Haiti include 107 pallets containing 3,852 cases of MannaPack rice meals in the charity’s Coconut Creek warehouse from Feed My Starving Children, and 88 cases of I.V. solutions plus medical gloves from St. Louis Park, Minn.-based Matter.
The goods were flown on five flights to Haiti via Airlink, a nonprofit that assists other nongovernment organizations with the transport of emergency supplies to disasters and humanitarian crises where the supply chain is constrained and international aid is required.
The service, which was announced by the U.S. Agency for International Development and Airlink last November, made regular trips between Miami and Port-au-Prince through the first quarter of this year.
Outside the USAID agreement, Airlink shipped five pallets of family emergency kits on behalf of FFTP partner GlobalMedic, a charity based in Canada, which include P&G Water Purification Sachets, buckets and lids, cloths, bars of soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and solar-powered lights. Those supplies, which arrived in Haiti in January, were distributed to 400 families.
Food and medical supplies are desperately needed as cholera cases climbed in late 2022 and conditions in the country plunged to horrifying new lows, as gangs block streets and limit movement in the country. The I.V. solutions from Matter were distributed to four hospitals in Port-au-Prince in December.
For months, most of Haiti has been paralyzed by civil unrest, soaring gang violence and a lack of fuel. Nearly half the population faces acute hunger. In early October, an outbreak of cholera threatened to take hold after cases had dwindled in recent years.
The number of suspected cases grew to more than 38,000 by April 7, according to the Pan American Health Organization. Children ages 1 to 4 and 5 to 9 are the most affected among the 2,592 confirmed cases.
Dr. Jean Philippe Lerbourg, FFTP-Haiti’s Medical Advisor, said proper nutrition could accelerate the recovery process or support one’s immune system to battle the deadly disease.
“Patients develop malnutrition after the acute phase due to massive loss of micronutrients through profuse diarrhea,” Dr. Lerbourg said.
Cholera is a bacterial infection contracted from contaminated food or water supplies. It can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea, in some cases leading to death. Though cholera numbers are no longer spiking, the number of families starving is growing and nearly half the country’s population.
“This situation is getting worse with the economic crisis where access to food is more difficult for the classes affected by the epidemic,” Dr. Lerbourg said. “It is important to provide food supplements to these people in the recovery phase of the disease to prevent other complication due to malnutrition. The MannaPack meals with a high micronutrient content can be a solution to this problem.”
Airlink has a long history of responding in Haiti amid natural disasters. Following its founding, its first response was to the Haiti Earthquake in 2010.
“Establishing this air bridge opens a vital lifeline for the people of Haiti and critical supply chain pathway for aid agencies. Delivering aid by sea is not possible because of port security concerns, and air freight costs have escalated upwards beyond the means of most aid organizations,” said Steve Smith, Airlink President and CEO. “Without grant funding from USAID and the Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance and in-kind freight forwarding services from our partner SEKO Logistics, this air bridge might not have been possible.”
FFTP President/CEO Ed Raine said the partnership to deliver these goods is saving lives.
“This partnership is an extraordinary moment,” Raine said. “We’re grateful to Airlink and USAID and other partners for helping us make this possible.”
In this video, Raine talks about the partnership in front of some of the goods that were included in the shipment: https://youtu.be/uIRSbjGhs_U
Despite obstacles, Raine said FFTP has taken advantage of “windows of opportunity” to distribute additional aid during the last six months.
In March, FFTP-Haiti provided food kits to 492 women from a program that cares for malnourished children and young mothers. It also was able to safely deliver food reserves to all 13 regional distribution centers in the country.
The charity assisted the main prison in Port-au-Prince, at the request of the government, and provided 1,350 bags of rice, 300 bags of beans and 1,600 cases of MannaPack rice meals to feed 12,000 inmates.
Additionally, FFTP-Haiti distributed more than 1,000 bags of beans, more than 4,700 bags of rice, plus hygiene items and cleaning supplies in November.
And food kits containing six pots of rice and two pots of beans were distributed at the FFTP-Haiti office to 818 beneficiaries from six parishes, many of whom are elderly and some who have physical disabilities. Each kit can feed a family of eight.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the charity regularly provided hot meals daily at its canteen. Since then, Haiti team members have assembled food kits and distributed them each month to the six parishes that volunteered to help with the distribution to families in need.
“We have these windows, but we’re so looking forward to getting back to doing our work on a daily basis as opposed to the sporadic basis which we have to accept right now,” Raine said.
“We know there is going to be a moment, whether it’s next week or next month,” he added. “The situation is so untenable that something has to happen. We’re poised for that moment where we can do things on a much larger scale.”
Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry children and families living in poverty primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, water, medicine, educational materials, homes, support for vulnerable children, care for the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.