Haiti was already one of the poorest countries in the American continent before 12 January 2010, when a 7.0 earthquake hit the country. During the 15 months since the devastating quake, which killed 220,000 people and left at least one million homeless, the country has also been struck by a cholera outbreak, by hurricane Tomas and by political instability during complicated presidential elections.
SOS Children have 30 years of experience in Haiti. Our first SOS Children’s Village was built in Santo, near to Port-au-Prince, and our second was built in the late 1980s in Cap Haitien, in the north of the country. In addition to the Children’s Villages, SOS offer family-based care, community services and education from these two locations. In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, SOS ran an Emergency Relief Programme supporting local communities and providing a new home for over 500 unaccompanied children. Over one year on, SOS are planning new long-term projects to contribute to Haiti’s recovery.
SOS Children are currently buying land in Les Cayes, Haiti’s third-largest city in the south of the country, to be another base for SOS programmes (see photo, below). A brand new SOS Children’s Village will be built with 15 family houses which will give a home to 135 orphaned or abandoned children.
The local area also has a high number of families affected by the earthquake, and the community lacks infrastructure such as education and health facilities. An SOS Family Strengthening Programme will support families and communities who have suffered the trauma of the earthquake and are struggling to readjust. SOS will run community centres in Les Cayes as day-care centres for children and will offer training, psychological and social support for their parents. Ilu Valenzuela, programme coordinator from SOS Children in Haiti, says “Children grow up in inappropriate homes, often malnourished, without access to health, food and education, with a high number of unemployed parents. We want a space to work with those families and increase their capacity to care for thier children's development."
In addition, a lack of public schools in the area mean that many children do not receive an education. SOS will construct a new school to provide a free education to over 700 children from the Children's Village and from the community.
Working with local government and community organisations, the new SOS Village, school and community programmes in Les Cayes will contribute towards strengthening post-earthquake society in Haiti.
In the immediate aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, SOS Children stepped up to provide Emergency Relief for children and families most affected. Now, nearly two years on from the disaster, read how we are contributing to Haiti’s long-term recovery.