Holding Haiti in Our Hearts

A statement from the HEAL Initiative on the current crises in Haiti, understanding it’s root causes, and ways to move in Solidarity

HEAL Initiative
3 min readAug 23, 2021

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Like so many of you, we have been following the devastation following the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti on Saturday. We have also been checking in with our colleagues and friends in Haiti to better understand what support is needed now.

(Left) Dr. Sriram Shamasunder, HEAL Co-Founder treating a Haitian patient, (Right) Dr. Robin Tittle, HEAL Curriculum Director working alongside Dr. Jacquelin Pierre, HEAL Alumni from Haiti, 2013

HEAL owes much to Haiti. Our co-founders met in Haiti providing medical care in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake in 2010. Those experiences created HEAL, shaping how we thought about both the need for immediate relief, alongside the need for deep solidarity and long term capacity building.

We have been working in Haiti since 2012, alongside our partner Zanmi Lasante. Many Haitian mentors, Haitian partner leads, and our site fellows from Haiti (Graciela Cadet, Sauveur Marcel, and Jacquelin Pierre) have shaped how we work and think about structural factors that lead to preventable suffering and death. They have also shown us remarkable resilience and commitment.

The devastation we see is the exposed tip of a deep iceberg of climate crisis, unjust trade relationships, structural violence, inhumane immigration policy, underfunded health systems, systematic racism, and global inequality. As in all crises, it is key to address the suffering, while also shining a light on the root causes.

As Partners in Health mentioned in their letter, even with a COVID surge and the tumultuous political context, there is resilient health system capacity that exists now that didn’t 10 years ago.

In the coming weeks HEAL is responding in four areas of support and solidarity requested by our local friends and colleagues:

  1. Providing funds via our partners Zanmi Lasante and Equal Health. Equal Health provides support to Haitian medical students and nursing students working on social medicine in Haiti and is organizing a mutual support fund for the current crisis. Read and Follow Equal Health´s Campaign Against Racism and updates from their Haitian community. Zanmi Lasante (Partners in Health) Provides disaster response medical care in Haiti
  2. Sending orthopedic and other medical supplies
  3. Volunteering as health workers as the security situation allows and the need becomes clear
  4. Advocating and amplifying our Haitian colleagues voices as they speak for emergency response AND structural change

We show up not out of charity or pity, but out of a deep understanding of our interconnectedness and awareness that structural factors continue to get in the way of Haiti’s capacity to thrive. We work in urgency towards that day.

Thank you,

HEAL Initiative staff Dr. Robin Tittle, co-founders Drs. Phuoc Le and Sriram Shamasunder and Fellows Drs. Jacquelin Pierre and Varun Varma in Haiti, 2013

Sri Shamasunder, HEAL Co-founder on behalf of The HEAL Team



HEAL Initiative

Health, Equity, Action & Leadership: Training healthcare providers and global change-makers in Navajo Nation, Haiti, Liberia, India, Nepal, Malawi & Mexico.