Although our work in post-earthquake Haiti has proved extremely challenging, we have intensified our efforts to help the country's most vulnerable segments of population. As a result of the earthquake, hundreds of thousands of children have lost parental care and are now growing up without any protection or guidance. SOS Children's Villages has been supporting these children so that they can one day lead a dignified life.
What we do in Cap Haïtien
As before the earthquake, our social centres in Cap Haïtien continue to provide family strengthening programmes, which aim to alleviate hardship in the community in a holistic and sustainable manner. Our services include a day-care centre and a childminding programme where children can be cared for. Over 1,000 children and 500 parents benefit from these services.
For children from the region who are no longer able to live with their parents, 22 SOS families can provide a loving home for up to 220 children. In each family, they live with their brothers and sisters and are affectionately cared for by their SOS mother. SOS Children's Villages is constantly receiving requests to admit more children, but we have only limited capacity to offer quality family-based care in SOS families.
There is also an SOS Hermann Gmeiner School here, where up to 700 children, both from the children’s village and the local community, receive primary and secondary education.
When young people feel ready to move out of their SOS home in order to pursue further education or vocational training, the SOS Youth Programme makes shared accommodation available to them. With the support of qualified counsellors, the young people can plan their future here, increasingly take on responsibility and prepare for independent adult life.Our SOS Vocational Training Centre in Cap Haïtien offers courses in electro mechanics, dressmaking, locksmithing, carpentry, car mechanics, plumbing, refrigeration and cosmetics. Up to 270 young people from the children’s village and the local community can receive training here. The SOS Vocational Training Centre also offers literacy courses for adults from the local community.
In quake-shattered Cap Haïtien, children today are more vulnerable than ever before
SOS Children's Village Cap Haïtien is situated at a distance of six kilometres from the town of Cap Haïtien. The surrounding area has a very low population density and is mainly used for agriculture. Cap Haïtien is the second most important city of the country due to its harbour. In January 2010 an earthquake of unprecedented scale reduced nearly the entire island to rubble.
Quake-struck Haiti is now arguably the least-developed country in Latin America and the Caribbean. Millions of people remain without access to running water, electricity and housing. Hundreds of thousands who lost their homes are living in provisional shelters or on the streets, still waiting to be resettled. The extent to which the earthquake has affected the Haitian population and their daily lives is beyond comparison in the history of this tiny nation.
To further worsen the situation following the quake, a massive cholera outbreak killed 6,600 and infected 476,000 within only one year. Even before the deadly earthquake, the number of children without parental care in Haiti was fairly high. As a result of the disaster, this figure has increased dramatically and is now as high as an estimated two million. Despite governmental efforts and the work of numerous NGOs to protect Haitian children, child trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation represent two major dangers that Haitian children face today.
Committed to supporting the people of this disaster-prone country
SOS Children's Village Cap Haïtien began its work in 1989. The nature of our work here changed drastically with the earthquake in 2010: we began providing emergency relief, assisting tens of thousands of children with food every day, giving medical care where needed and providing shelter to unaccompanied children. We are now making the transition from an emergency relief programme to a permanent social programme. Our focus now lies on long-term reconstruction efforts, especially schools, on children without parental care, and on supporting families at community level.