Early into Hurricane Season, and the Impact is Substantial

The aftermath of Hurricane Ike in Gilchrist, Texas (Reuters, The Atlantic)

This week, many of our grantee partners and the families they serve across the globe — in Texas, Florida, Haiti, India, and Bangladesh, are dealing with the aftermath of a hurricane or are in the process of preparing for one that’s about to make landfall.

We know these weather events disproportionately affect those already most vulnerable, and the increase in number and intensity of these events due to climate change has real consequences for pregnant women and mothers everywhere. Luckily, we know the partners we support will do all they can for their mamas and babies, even in the most difficult situations.

Just days ago, we provided an emergency response grant to Circle of Health International (COHI) based in Austin, Texas to support their efforts just days after Hurricane Harvey struck. The grant is helping COHI work with their partners throughout the region to identify pregnant women, families with newborns and medically fragile children to help connect them to critical healthcare and safety. This is our second emergency fund grant to COHI. The first was in 2015 to support the training of Syrian midwives in Gaziantep, Turkey.

Yolanda is COHI’s Hurrivane Harvey evacuee support coordinator. She, along with her husband and two sons is an evacuee herself from Victoria, Texas. She is leading the COHI evacuee team in Texas to help COHI identity and support the families in need across the state. (Photo: Circle of Health International)

We have received recent updates from COHI who have now hired a local staff lead, an evacuee mother herself, to manage the Austin-based evacuee response team. COHI has already processed 59 cash grants to evacuee women and families to help offset costs of relocation. The organization has also distributed diapers, menstrual health products, bras, underwear, breast pumps, and other women’s and newborn health related products to evacuees at three different distribution sites in Austin, trying to reach as many people as possible.

With the effects of Hurricane Harvey still very much a concern, we now also await news of safety from our partners at Commonsense Childbirth near Orlando, Florida — who are preparing for Hurricane Irma — as well as from Midwives for Haiti, based in Central Haiti, where we know the rains have already begun.

Midwives for Haiti (Photo by Monique Jaques)

Nadene Brunk, co-founder of Midwives for Haiti, says “the Midwives for Haiti staff in Hinche are preparing the best they can for no electricity, no ability to go for food or water, and no internet. They have cancelled classes for the week and are stocking up on fuel, food and water. Internet goes out anytime there is a lot of rain so that will make it difficult to communicate with them. The frightening thing is that there are so many people who drown and/or lose their homes every time the rivers flood. And the people who have frail homes will lose them with any strong wind. Life is so precarious there. Actually, it is hard not to feel that life is precarious everywhere right now. But when it effects work and the people who work for us and people we love it makes us very anxious.”

Perrine, a Midwives for Haiti volunteer on home visits. (Photo by Monique Jaques, Haiti)

COHI has reached out to Midwives for Haiti to offer any assistance they may need, even in the midst of dealing with their own crisis in Texas.

Please follow us on social media for updates from our grantee partners, and help us wish for safety and well-being of the communities they serve.

About the Maternal & Child Heath Emergency Fund:
Following the Gorkha earthquake in Nepal in April 2015, we established our Maternal & Child Health Emergency Fund so that we can respond rapidly during times of natural disaster, armed conflict and public health crises. Our first emergency grant was to support One Heart Worldwide, who has been working in Nepal to help maternal and child health on the ground since 2010.

Since then, we have provided a total of $231,430 to various programs in the U.S. and around the world from our Maternal and Child Health fund.

Topics: Maternal Health