What one cholera victim wants you to know on International Human Rights Day

The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) recently put out a call for volunteers to help translate hundreds of letters (more than 500 at first count) from Creole into English.  These letters are the testimony of some small percentage of the thousands of people impacted by cholera across Haiti; they are a record of loss, frustration, on-going illness and largely unacknowledged suffering.

For those of you who didn’t know, today, December 10th, is International Human Rights Day.  So today, as part of a push for U.N. accountability for the cholera outbreak, IJDH has decided to take these letters directly to the United Nations Security Council:

“We are targeting the Security Council because it is a body with the power to make remedies for victims a reality. By bringing victims’ voices directly to UN member states, we hope to expose the human impact of cholera and push the UN to finally take responsibility for bringing cholera to Haiti.” – Excerpted from letter from IJDH JustFellow

But IJDH has asked us to share these letters even more widely in order to amplify the voices of cholera survivors.  The writers of these letters want to share their stories, and we as friends and allies to Haiti should take the time to listen.

Below is a letter from cholera survivor Marie Isnack to the United Nations Security Council:

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 8.09.23 AM


November 24, 2015

From: Marie Isnack

Granzèb, Haiti

To: The President and Members of the General Security Council of the United Nations:

With respect:

To tell the truth, my life no longer feels important since Cholera came over me. I used to work the land to provide food for my children and my wife, now I’m no longer able to do this work anymore. Since I became sick with Cholera, it gave me severe diarrhea and vomiting such that even now there is weakness in my body. MINUSTAH is responsible for giving me Cholera, we know this, and it has harmed me greatly. Our lives are not important anymore, I cannot do anything, cholera has left a nausea and dizziness inside me, and the long term effects of Cholera give me pain. I’ve become handicapped from this disease.   Because of this disease I cannot work to send my children to school anymore, and there is darkness over my eyes. I cannot do anything at all.

I can tell you that Cholera has caused me to lose my health.

Thank you.

This letter is signed by Marie Isnack


Certified True Copy for Ban Ki Moon and Jean Paul, Prime Minister de facto of the Country of Haiti

End of Translation

Today on International Human Rights Day (and any day really) it might feel hard to decide where to turn our energy.  The widespread accounts of injustice and human rights violations throughout the world can sometimes cause paralysis for those who would take action.  Don’t let it.

Start here (suggestions from the FACEJUSTICE.ORG homepage):

  • Sign the petition calling for clean water in Haiti:http://bit.ly/cholerapetition. They’re looking to get 30,000 supporters by December 10, Human Rights Day! (They’re at 27,000 right now, let’s help them close that gap!)

  • Speaking out on social media. Tag the @UN and use #FaceJustice to connect with others.

  • Click to Tweet: 5 yrs without justice for cholera is 5 too many. @UN #FaceJustice now!  www.facejustice.org

  • Bring FACE|JUSTICE to your community by hosting a film screening, panel discussion, photo exhibit, or postcard drive.  Contact haitiadvocacy@mcc.org for more information.

Written by Erin Nguyen on December 10, 2015


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