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 and guidance. SOS Children's Villages has been supporting these children so that they can one day lead a dignified life.
What we do in Santo
SOS Children's Village Santo is located roughly 15km outside of Port au Prince. Our organisation has been assisting the local population by means of a holistic and integral package of services: support to vulnerable families, schooling, loving homes for children without parental care, counselling, psychological support and a youth programme.
Implemented in 1984, SOS Children's Village Santo now comprises 19 SOS families where up to 190 orphaned and abandoned children are cared for by loving SOS mothers. Through our SOS Youth Programme in Port au Prince, the youngsters develop perspectives for their future and learn to shoulder responsibility as they lead semi-independent lives. They are encouraged to develop a sense of team spirit and build contacts with relatives and friends.
At the SOS Hermann Gmeiner School, up to 630 children receive high-quality primary and secondary education. The school building is equipped with a library, a music room and a computer lab.
Our SOS Social Centres offer counselling, psychological support and child day-care to local families. The SOS Family Strengthening Programmes represent a comprehensive concept aiming to enable children who are at risk of losing parental care to grow up within their own family. Many young mothers who would otherwise not be able to raise their children have sought our support. They are now able to go to work and earn a living while their children are being looked after in our day-care centre.
In quake-shattered Port au Prince, millions of children remain victims of a stolen childhood
SOS Children's Village Santo is located on the outskirts of the Haitian capital, Port au Prince, a city shattered by an earthquake of unprecedented scale that reduced nearly the entire island to rubble in January 2010.
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 compare in the history of this tiny nation.
To further worsen the situation, a massive cholera outbreak killed 6,600 and sickened 476,000 within only one year. Even before the deadly earthquake, the number of orphaned children in Haiti was fairly high. As a result of the disaster, it has increased dramatically and is now up at an estimated two million. As thousands of children spend their days roaming the streets of Port au Prince, the earthquake has created a rather fertile climate for child traffickers. Despite governmental efforts and the work of numerous NGOs to protect Haitian children, child trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation represent two major problems that Haitian children face these days.
Committed to supporting the people of this disaster-prone country
The work of our organisation in Port au Prince began in the late 1970s. The former director of a Port au Prince orphanage agreed to transform it into the country's first SOS Children's Village. Only a few years later, in 1984, the SOS Children's Village Santo went into operation. Over the course of history, the Caribbean island of Haiti has frequently been haunted by natural disasters of enormous magnitude. The country has been one of the poorest in Latin America for decades and thus strongly depends on international help and the work of organisations like SOS Children's Villages. Against the background of the destructive 2010 earthquake, our organisation decided to renew its commitment in Haiti.