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Timing "worse possible" for Haitian Earthquake orphans

Timing "worse possible" for Haitian Earthquake orphans

Earthquake orphan update 3

There is not such a thing as "good" timing for earthquakes. There is concern though: the timing of the earthquake at 16:53.

In one way this is positive. We know that our schools in Haiti run between 07:30 and 16:30 and that our schools, as most others, had closed before the earthquake hit. The children were mostly playing in the open and on their way home. That at least is positive: schools are big buildings which often kill many children if they collapse in an earthquake. On the other hand we know that our office staff were still at work and most of our staff were trapped inside. Luckily the building was one of the most substantial and although it suffered damage it did not completely collapse. Most of our team lost their own homes and many are desperately searching for their families but none were killed.

Our concern is that in a country with so many children orphaned by poverty, AIDS, and tropical storm and with so few breadwinners supporting so many in an extended family, nature may have played the cruellest trick with the timing. Breadwinners and mothers at home may well be the worst hit and the children will have to live on alone. Of course it could have been worse, an hour earlier would have killed more children as well. But a little later, just a little later would have left many more of those children with parents.

Communication lines to Haiti are still down, but it has been confirmed that at least among the children and staff of the two SOS Children's Villages, there have been no casualties.  Added to the good news about the office staff we are comforted. The Village near Port au Prince is mainly standing (apart from a perimeter wall) and will be a good base to look after children orphaned by the earthquake.

There is, unfortunately, still no word from other SOS Children programmes, and we are pessimistic. The neighbourhoods where SOS Children is active have in some cases been completely destroyed. In addition, part of our Youth accomodation in Santo (a rented flat in the city) was destroyed and two of our older children were injured. They have received medical assistance and are now out of danger.

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