Jean Pierre-Louis works in public health in the New York area since getting his Bachelors degree and then Masters in Public Health in 2009 from Brooklyn College. He also has taken his passion for health education, disease prevention and treatment to his ancestral Haitian village Fonfrede in the south of Haiti.
In 2009, Pierre-Louis founded CapraCare, which provides health education and prevention and screening for a community previously out-of-the loop of healthcare access. Little by little, the energetic work of dedicated volunteers both in Haiti and in the U.S are growing this project.
He explains that the in-country 25 community health workers who they core-train (with on-going training) in health education are basically volunteers. Twenty are certified by the Haitian Ministry of Heath and Population.
They come with a high school or some with college degrees but for most, “this is their first job.” They do get a small expense stipend but Pierre-Louis notes, “We hope we will be able to pay a salary.”
Happily, Jean Pierre-Louis announces that they have hired a full-time — the only paid staff member, Dr. Steve Papillon, now Haiti program director who provides supportive management and direct medical services.
The CapraCare Community Health Center in Fonfrede is about 10 miles north of the southern city Les Cayes. This program is funded by fundraisers such as the “Show Your Love for Haiti” held Saturday, in lower Manhattan.
There are approximately four supportive service trips to Fonfrede a year.
CUNY Professor of Environmental Public Health Jean Grassman, a former Brooklyn College professor of Pierre-Louis, was among the Board members attending last week’s fundraiser. Haitian-born Nathalie Domerson who works for the NYC Board of Health and looks at mosquitoes as vectors was also present. Domerson is almost finished with her Masters in Public Health and had an internship with CapraCare.
Domerson traveled with Grassman on a CapraCare trip to conduct surveys in Fonfrede assessing how much do members of the community understand how mosquitoes carry illness and if residents know how to prevent breeding.
“It was a good fit,” said Grassman of Domerson who translated the survey questionnaire into Haitian creole and used her home language skills during their door-to-door rounds. On that trip they also mapped mosquito-breeding areas and identified larvae.
A follow-up was a prevention education program and distribution of mosquito nets. “We hope to distribute more,” says Pierre-Louis, on how important this program is given last year’s mosquito-born virus outbreak Chikugunya and now the threat of Zika.
At the fundraiser, board member Dr. Yanick Guerin, a pediatrician in Morris Heights, spoke of being the doctor on a recent service trip. She treated chicken pox and many infected cuts. Dr. Guerin also speaks of her feeling of helplessness when the Center did not have the proper medicines to treat a very very sick 12-year-old girl with type 1 diabetes. After the diagnosis their group was able to transport her to the Les Cayes hospital where she was thankfully successfully treated.
Vice-Chair of the Board Cordell Brown was a masterful MC for the evening.
Brown noted that in CapraCare’s almost seven years, it has served 12,000 of the 20,000 in the Fonfrede community.
After a remembrance to those who lost their lives in the earthquake, the evening proceeded with performances, kudos to an expanding cadre of CapraCare’s supporters and awards.
Marie Josee Joseph for partnership building and development; Geraldine Joseph, board director for fundraising and health education development; Renee Vanessa Misere, event manager who revealed that she lost her mother during the earthquake, and donor Stefanie Rimpel who assists with events and development received awards.
Folkloric dance La Troupe Zetwal, Xoxo (pronounce so-so) Lion and Stella Guerra, and Ms. Alize entertained CapraCare supporters.