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Child Sponsorship Report 2010, from Santo, Haiti

Sponsored child from Santo
Sponsored child from Santo

A child sponsorship report from Santo, Haiti, which was near the epicentre of the earthquake. From 2010.

Dear sponsor

On January 12th, 2010, Haiti went through one of the most horrific catastrophes of the human race. Due to the fact that the earthquake practically destroyed all the facilities of Port-au-Prince, many sectors were worried about its rebuilding. Thus, SOS Children’s Villages International introduced an emergency program for answering the needs of the Haitian population through its intervention axis: the Children’s Villages and the Family Strengthening Programs.

Before the strong seism, this Village had 152 children (70 girls and 82 boys). After the earthquake, we have an increase on the number of children who lived in a very vulnerable situation across the country. The first international team elaborated a foster program whose aim was to give protection to 380 children in vulnerability. For this reason, during the first week of March, the Village population increased from 152 up to 512 SOS children admitted in a short, mid and long-term. Since March 8th, 2010, we started this program and the social workers dedicated to search families of the children that were admitted after the seism. As a result, on May 14th, 2010 we reunified 149 children with their families and the Village population decreased to 427 children. It is also important to point out that 25 of 152 children of the Village were in a SOS Youth Home before the earthquake, and from March 15th to May 14th of the current year, we admitted 63 new children in the Village. The construction of the temporary hostels is one of our priorities because this will make easy to reduce the number of children who are living in the houses.

Before January the 12th, 2010, the health of 152 children of the Village was very stable, except for some pathologies such as flu-like syndrome, temperature, headache, inflammation of the ear or abdominal ache. These cases, five children in total, were examined and treated inside the Village or in some hospitals according to the needs of each one. After the earthquake, the situation changed because many sick and disabled children arrived to the Village and mixed with the others. Among the sufferings recorded after the seism, we could mention: facial paralysis, blindness, deafness, flu, temperature, diarrhea, dehydration, malnutrition, headache, pneumonia, umbilical and inguinal hernia, etc.

We report that we have received other organizations support, including a mobile hospital. We can mention a group of ophthalmologists that examined 65 children and other groups such as DEMIRA , SEMECA , Relief International and some dentists who offered their service for free to our lovely children. Besides these organizations, we are especially grateful to the Hospital of Brazil for receiving 15 children of the Village from 1 to 3 o’clock after the catastrophe. Due to the assistance of these different medical groups, we realize that the health and life inside the Village are better. We hope that the aid continues and that the children enjoy perfect health.

The earthquake left a lot of victims in Port-au-Prince and caused psychological relapses within families. Children were traumatized as well as SOS mothers, aunts, youth, educators, and other SOS staff. After this catastrophe, we have observed that some people suffered from acute stress such as hyperactivity, hypervigilance, shunning, reviviscence, insomnia, attention and concentration problems, aggression, a fear of entering to their house despite the experts said it was safe to do it, excessive attachment to their mother, sudden frights, etc. The SOS Children’s Village introduced a psychological program for examining the mental health of the children: Emotional Recovery Program.

Thanks to this program, some people were relieved, but some others needed a longer treatment. As a result, we applied psychological evaluations, regular visits three days a week for observing their behavior progress in their house, education meetings for youth, mothers and aunts, as well. This program was done by the psychologists’ aid and the Youth Community in order to organize recreational, cultural and sport activities. The most worrying case was the one of 33 children that we received from the Haitian-Dominican border. They were the psychologists’ priority because they were the most affected due to their situation and, above all, to the other children who were admitted in the Village after the seism.

Through its two programs, the SOS Children’s Village has helped the Haitian population, particularly the Cul de Sac Coast. Besides its purpose of admitting orphaned and abandoned children who do not have a family and a good education, SOS implemented a second Prevention of Child Abandonment Programmme. Thus, the child thinks that belonging in his or her biological family, makes him or her feel comfortable to blossom. By means of the Community Centers integrated by the Family Strengthening Programme, SOS supervises children living in their biological family and supports as well families by giving them an appropriate education so that they can improve their poor life conditions.

We had one SOS Social Centre with 125 children and 16 Community Centres with 60 children, before the earthquake. Each one received people from Monday to Saturday from 7:30 to 4 o’clock for giving them bread with two meals and one snack. This was applied during the twelve months of the year with a reduced and flexible schedule during summer vacation. People were happy and said that this programme was a God’s gift, a mother’s and father’s relief. They have the opportunity to be together, to have education, to learn something to improve their life, to learn how to do family planning, etc.

The people in charge of SOS Children’s Villages International thought once more in all the Haitian families stroked by this catastrophe. Since the third week of January, they arrived from everywhere to help us and to start opening Feeding Centres in order to help Haitian children who lost their family. These places are not like the Community Centres; they receive children not only to feed them but to distract them so that they could forget the traumas caused by the seism. We distributed toys, sheets, sleeping bags, clothes, medicines and many other things. We also gave tools to some families: wheelbarrows, shovels, pickaxes, etc. Meanwhile, the 16 Community Centres worked well and were stable and had a budget, before the seism. However, after the catastrophe, the workforce has been trebled or quadrupled. When they receive the aid from the Emergency Programme, they want to fix their place hit by this scourge. Now we have 110 Feeding Centres, 16 Community Centres and one SOS Social Centre with 275 children.

In those days, before the earthquake, the organization had four SOS Youth Homes; but, unfortunately one of them collapsed after this terrible event. The youth people had to take refuge in the SOS Children’s Village inside their old house. In March, we proceeded to open a new SOS Youth Home and the one which was collapsed is functioning as it did. Nowadays, we have five SOS Youth Homes which work well and there are 64 youthes. Despite everything, we can say that the situation is getting better. We organized a visit for observation from a psychologist and now almost everything is right. All the youth went back to their school activities and we are working in order to assure them a good future.

The administration department has completed the Village team after January 12th so that the SOS mothers could stand their responsibilities which have been very heavy during this period. We know the kind of problems they are facing and which ones need an immediate resolution. The SOS mothers required many things to be solved before the earthquake, such as damaged fridges, ovens that did not work problems of water in their houses, school uniforms for the youth, etc. After the terrible January 12th, many needs were fulfilled with the emergency aid.

After four months of hard work, we can conclude that we have had several changes in the Village. We have had many improvements related with the physical and mental health, nutrition and education of the children in the SOS Children’s Village of Santo thanks to the employees and volunteers who think and work for them. Nowadays, we have a young team of employees that are willing to work in favour of children, as well as the SOS Children’s Villages of our country.

Sincerely Yours,

Celigny Darius
National Director
SOS Children’s Villages Haiti

This report may have been written by someone whose first language is not English.  It has been left unedited, as this is how a sponsor would receive it.