We all remember the first time we saw the horrifying pictures on the news. January 12, 2010: a massive earthquake struck Haiti claiming the lives of more than 230,000 people and affecting three million others.
|Presidential Palace, Port au Prince, Haiti Photo Credit: Sophie Preisch|
Two years after that terrifying quake, significant progress has been made in reconstructing Haiti. Nevertheless, the country remains closer to a state of emergency than it does to achieving a stable future full of opportunities.
SOS Children's Villages, which has been active in Haiti since 1978, has been concentrating its long-term reconstruction efforts in the region on supporting children without parental care, supporting families at a community level and supporting schools.
During the first twelve months following the earthquake, SOS Children's Villages provided tens of thousands of children with food every day, giving medical care where needed and providing shelter to unaccompanied children. From there, SOS has begun the transition to providing permanent social programmes. SOS has begun constructing new schools and expanded long-term social programmes for children and families.
|New School under construction Photo Credit: Sophie Preisch|
The lives of many abandoned children in Haiti are dire. The conditions in most orphanages are catastrophic. SOS Children's Villages Haiti has issued warnings that the number of abandoned children is rising steadily - an alarming indicator that, due to poverty and impossible living conditions, families are no longer able to provide for themselves.
SOS Children's Villages constantly receives requests to admit more children, but has only limited capacity to offer quality family-based care in SOS families.
Today some 130 additional children are still living in the SOS Children's Village Santo. To provide long-term care, a second SOS Children's Village will be necessary in Port-au-Prince. In 2012 a further programme for children without parental care will commence in Les Cayes, in the south of the country. More children were placed in the SOS Children's Village at Cap Haïtien.
Outside of its children's villages, SOS is working in Haiti to improve the lives of abandoned and orphaned children in the following ways:
- SOS is drawing on its expertise with abandoned and orphaned children and working alongside other NGOs and to urge the Haitian government, the UN Security Council and other bodies to improve the quality of care for, and the legal situation of, abandoned children.
- SOS continues to support families and children in the districts of Port-au-Prince, Cap Haïtien and soon in Les Cayes. SOS’ goal is to strengthen the resources of the communities in order to enable the families, particularly women, to support themselves.
- SOS is also expanding the construction of schools and the provision of quality teacher training. In total, SOS Children's Villages is financing the construction of a community school and four public schools in Santo and the area of Les Cayes. These new SOS Schools will accommodate a total of 1,000 students at each of these locations. Comprehensive training courses in child-centred education are being offered for teachers in cooperation with the University Quisqueya.
|Children are the priority Photo Credit: Sophie Preisch|
With over half the population of Haiti under the age of 18, the crisis in Haiti is very much a children’s crisis. The reconstruction of Haiti continues to be a complex undertaking. SOS has been in the region for 34 years, and is here for the long haul.
This five minute video helps describe the work SOS Children's Villages has done and will continue to do for the children of Haiti.