Cap Haitien is a six-hour drive on bad roads from Haiti’s capital Port au Prince. Not directly affected by January’s earthquake, the SOS Children’s Village is nevertheless helping to deal with the aftermath. In a country torn apart by destruction, the SOS Children’s Village Cap Hatien, in the north of Haiti, is an oasis of peace. Constructed in 1989 the village of 22 family houses (originally there were 19 until three former Youth Homes were refurbished as family houses) sits in a large compound bordered by lush vegetation and criss-crossed by narrow footpaths.
After the earthquake convoys arrived from Port-au-Prince
When the January 2010 earthquake happened, Cap Hatien was not directly affected. However, SOS staff lost friends and relatives and many convoys of people arrived in Cap Hatien from Port-au-Prince. Forty children from these convoys were taken into the Village and 36 remain there while authorities try to find their families. Thus the Village now has a population of 256 children, which means that every house has at least one extra child. As with most SOS Children’s Villages, the Village gates are the scene of much activity every weekday morning as children from the community arrive for school. The Cap Hatien Village runs a nursery for children aged between two and six and also a primary and secondary school for children up to 15. There is no charge for either institution.
Working in partnership
In addition, a short walk away is an SOS Centre de Formation, or Vocational Training Centre, where students can learn a variety of trades from plumbing, auto mechanics and electrical engineering, to refrigeration engineering, tailoring and cosmetology (beautician training). There are also courses in carpentry and masonry – the latter run in partnership with the organisation, Habitat for Humanity, which is helping with Haiti’s reconstruction. Habitat for Humanity sponsors 60 young people on the carpentry and masonry courses.
Despite being a long way from the epi-centre of the earthquake the SOS Children’s Village Cap Haitien is helping to deal with the aftermath. Children are being cared for in secure family homes, and educated at a good school and young people are receiving vocational training which may one day secure them a job. It’s a small start after such devastation, but one which may have long lasting effects in a country that has suffered so much.