Letter home from Georg Willeit in Port-au-Prince
“The banks opened on Friday”
Today is Sunday and as on every Sunday lots of people are at church. I am not sure why (because I wasn't here last week) but I really have the feeling their singing and praying is louder than usual. The situation here is still terrible, although certainly it is getting better as food and water is becoming available, but life in the camps which have sprung up all over Port au Prince is very hard. People are packed close together day and night. But somehow the people of Haiti try to find their way back to normality. On Friday the banks opened again and many people queued to withdraw some money. Small outdoor markets reopened, and people are relieved to have the chance to get at least some little things they need for their daily life.
In the Children’s Village of Santo, the first lone children have arrived in the last couple of days. SOS is building a safe haven to take in many more children here in our village. The children arriving are still shocked and traumatised, some of them are more or less not talking, and those who are talking tell you sad stories. But if you ask them how they feel now, at least in this moment they reply with a little smile, and they say that they are happy to be here, and that they love to be with the other children. These children were found alone but it will be a long time before we are really sure about their family situation and whether they are orphaned. Some of the international comments about rapid adoption are alarming given the situation of uncertainty on the ground here.
SOS Update Report from Patricia Vargas
As the first unaccompanied children arrive we are progressing with building a safe haven for children. An embassy provided us with engineers who have declared our school building and our family houses safe and secure. The school building is ready to start receiving children, while additional temporary shelters are built (tents).
We are training locals whom we know to take care of the children in the temporary shelter. Information about the SOS temporary shelter has been spread among all the child organisations working on emergency relief in the emergency through the “protection cluster”. According to an UN report there are 40,000 children reached within the area. The number of lone children needing support is greater than the capacity to respond. Those under five and extremely vulnerable are being prioritised. The situation of lone children is alarming - SOS Children is building alliances on this with other NGOs/organisations to urge rapid and appropriate measures to protect these children.