Haiti: one year later
“Today’s reality [in Haiti] is not too far from the reality of the days following January 12, 2010. But, the most important thing is that we continue to dream and believe in a better tomorrow for us and for our children.”- Madsen Gachette, Canadian Feed The Children Country Representative for Haiti
January 12, 2011 marked one year since a 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti, leaving three million people needing emergency aid. More than 230,000 Haitians lost their lives due to the earthquake; 3 million were injured or lost their homes and well over 1 million are still living in dense tent cities across the country. The rubble of thousands of homes, shops and offices is estimated to be untouched a year after the devastation. This is seriously hampering reconstruction efforts – as the clearing must happen before the re-building can begin.
Canadian Feed The Children’s Executive Director, Debra Kerby, travelled to Haiti in August 2010. Visiting Port-au-Prince and the communities in the area opened her eyes to the reality of the situation on the ground. Read about her experience here.
Canadian Feed The Children has provided a significant proportion of our overall funding to emergency humanitarian assistance in Haiti as well as ongoing support for our longer-term projects to children, families and our partners in the communities in which we work.
Through the generous contribution of our donors, we have provided emergency food aid, potable water and medical supplies in response to immediate and ongoing need. We have also maintained our focus on longer-term community development, healthy, sanitation and nutritional projects.
Some of the highlights of our work in Haiti include:
- Building a maternity ward in the community of Thor, reaching a population of 10,000
- Resourcing four mobile clinics, offering medical services in rural areas in the earthquake zone
- Distributing 11,456 bags of AK-1000, an important nutritional supplement to stave off malnutrition
- Providing 2,400 people living in tent cities with hygiene kits, soap, rice, beans, ground maize, wheat, spaghetti, cooking oil and dry fish.rations
- Installing 10 cisterns that pump clean, fresh water, helping to decrease the spread of infection and disease and building 30 latrines to help improve sanitation in Guyenne (in addition to the 565 latrines, 50 cisterns and two wells that have been built since the inception of our work in the Guyenne area)
- Offering health and sanitation training sessions to over 2,700 people, and medical care through several clinics in Cameau and Thor to thousands more
- Providing hundreds of families with chlorine tablets for safe, clean water and mosquito nets for the prevention of malaria
We continue to work with our dedicated community partners to provide humanitarian and emergency relief, specifically to stem the spread of cholera which continues to rise in the southern and south-eastern parts of Haiti, while also maintaining our focus on sustainable community development programs.
2010 and beyond
Parts of the House of Hope Orphanage in Gressier, Haiti were damaged in the earthquake and plans are well underway to rebuild the structure for the 200 children living there.
Canadian Feed The Children maintained its nutritional support for House of Hope throughout 2010, as well as providing medical check-ups, books, school supplies, toiletries, cleaning supplies, kitchen improvements, new clothes and two special holiday celebrations for the children. In 2011, Canadian Feed The Children plans to build a new water filtration system, while continuing to support nutrition, education and health programs, as well as re-building the girls’ dormitory which was destroyed in the earthquake.
We support 300 malnourished children in the areas of Cameau, Thor and other rural communities north of Port-au-Prince with medical check-ups, feeding programs and nutrition education. Mothers and fathers with children in the program have monthly weight and health checks. Each family receives three bags of AK-1000 (a combination corn, soy and bean supplement); two bags of enriched milk powder; and two bottles of cooking oil to supplement food being prepared at home. Canadian Feed The Children donors made it possible for our partners to construct ten water cisterns for needy families; more are on the way in 2011.
Building cisterns in the area of Guyenne has meant that those residents no longer have to walk long distances to reach safe, clean water. The cisterns have also encouraged local residents to plant gardens and improve the diets of local families by having them plant their own vegetables.
In the community of Cameau, we organized four mobile health clinics in the earthquake zone. These mobile health clinics allowed us to rapidly mobilize our cholera response. Also in Cameau and neighbouring Thor, we support sustainable local farming by distributing melon seeds, fertilizer and banana plants to farmers.
To help improve sanitation and stop the spread of disease, 30 new latrines were built, a new water well was drilled and chlorine tablets were distributed to hundreds of families. These programs will be maintained and expanded in 2011. The well in Cameau / Thor has been a key to preventing the spread of cholera in the community, as residents have had a safer water source than the contaminated Bethel River.
Canadian Feed The Children’s Combat Cholera campaign, providing health and personal protection, hygiene, safe water and community education has almost reached its campaign goal of $30,000, but the need is still great in Haiti. Cholera continues to threaten communities in Haiti, and reconstruction efforts in Port-au-Prince remain imperative. Violence in the tent cities and throughout the country is on the rise, due to the ongoing governmental instability and the deteriorating conditions in the camps.
One year later, we have seen some small improvements in Haiti, but progress has been slow. Aid organizations have been called on to re-double their efforts to support Haiti with both emergency help as well as better coordinated support for reconstruction. At Canadian Feed The Children, our well-established partnerships allow us to have a direct and almost immediate impact in very targeted ways. We will continue to work hard – with the help of our generous donors, our partners and our in-country staff.
How can you help?
Those interested in helping the people of Haiti as they contend with these immense challenges may donate online, or call 1-800-387-1221 to speak to a Supporter Services Representative.