After the 2010 earthquake, SOS Children stepped in to provide immediate assistance to families whose lives had been destroyed. We offered food packages, gave medical care where needed and provided shelter to unaccompanied children.
Since then, we have helped communities in Haiti to rebuild their lives, provided a permanent home in our SOS Children’s Villages for children with no one to care for them, and built and refurbished schools. In October 2012, the country was badly affected by Hurricane Sandy, and once again we reached out through our SOS Social Centres to provide vital support for those affected.
From emergency relief to sustainable community development
Now, we are focusing on strengthening the resources of communities. We are gradually converting our emergency relief distribution points into permanent social centres to empower vulnerable families to become independent, preventing child abandonment. So far, we have opened 26 community centres across Port-au-Prince, one of the cities hardest hit by the earthquake.
The community centres equip parents with the knowledge and skills to move towards self-reliance. We consult families to establish their needs, and tailor our programmes to meet their requirements. Training classes on offer includes hygiene and family planning. Literacy lessons provide the essential skills they need for gaining employment. We are strengthening parent’s capacity to care and provide for their children in the long-term, ensuring families can grow up together in a positive environment.
Watch a video of how we are strengthening communities
Settling into family life at an SOS Children’s Village
Many children became orphaned or were separated from their families in the chaos of the aftermath of the quake. SOS Children offered a safe environment for more than 400 unaccompanied children in SOS Children’s Village Santo, just outside of Port-au-Prince.
To provide a long-term solution for 121 children who could not be reunited with their families, SOS Children rented six houses in Croix-des-Bouquets, just outside Port-au-Prince. Here, they are living in SOS families, each headed by several ‘SOS aunts’ who provide 24-hour care in a family environment.
Annaelle’s story: Three years on
12 January 2010 was the worst day of ten-year-old Annaelle’s life. She lost her mother under the rubble of the family house where they lived, in a street now known as ‘Burial Street’. That was also the last time she saw her father, who disappeared that day.
SOS Children offered her a safe place to stay in the SOS Children’s Village Santo. Unable to retrace any family willing to care for her, in February 2012, Annaelle moved into one of the new rented homes close to Croix-des-Bouquets. She now lives with ten other children she calls her SOS brothers and sisters.
Her family home is headed by three ‘SOS aunts’, who she gets along with well. With counselling and emotional support, Annaelle was gradually able to begin enjoying family life in a stable environment. Now 12, she feels very much at home with her family. SOS Aunt Marie says: "Annaelle is a smart girl and very friendly. She is very interesting and likes to participate in family life.”
Annaelle was traumatised by the loss of her mother in the earthquake. SOS Children has given her the emotional and practical support she needed to enable her to settle into a new life, and she can now look forward to a bright future.
Find out more about SOS Children in Haiti.