What does the future of the children of Haiti look like? I think that most of them will continue to have a difficult life, faced by many challenges. Those who do have the chance of a better future are living in the SOS Children's Villages in Haiti.
The children who survived the earthquake and that were taken to the SOS Children's Village in Santo on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince are now doing well. Severely traumatised twelve-year-old Eribic went through different stages before he managed to accept his situation. Feelings of guilt still get to him from time to time because he was not able to save his disabled mother. She told him to study outside and when the earth started shaking, she was not able to leave their small house. During his first weeks in the SOS Children's Village he was withdrawn and suffered from nightmares. He just used to live with his mother and then suddenly had to get used to having many new brothers and sisters. Eribic did not know how to cope with his grief and the new situation. He started acting out, got angry with other children and his behaviour was unpredictable. The psychologist and the family assistant gave him the extra attention he needed. Individual counselling and therapy gave him the strength to gradually cope with daily life. His SOS mother was trained to pay extra attention and make sure that she complimented him a lot. His aggressive behaviour has now decreased significantly, he smiles and helps his new SOS mother and his little siblings.
And what about the three little children who stayed in a tent camp with their grandfather who had dug them out of the rubble and whose parents had not survived the earthquake? Twins Antoine and Anaïs were one year old when they were taken to an SOS co-worker in the camp. They had no visible physical injuries, whereas their two year old sister Noëlle had a broken arm. Their poor and old grandfather was relieved that SOS Children's Villages was able to take care of his grandchildren and that he could come and visit them in the SOS Children's Village as often as he wanted to. In the first weeks Noëlle was very tense and she started to cry at every unexpected sound she heard....a truck passing by on the road behind the SOS Children's Village could make her burst into tears. The twins were extremely quiet. They preferred to sit outside the house together and had problems interacting with the other children. It took some time before they felt confident enough to move around and play with the other children. Noëlle's arm has now completely healed and she is a joyful little girl who plays and laughs with her other SOS brothers and sisters. She enjoys going to kindergarten and looks after Antoine and Anaïs. Anaïs feels free within the SOS Children's Village and she is very attached to her new SOS mother. Antoine is still a bit quiet and makes sure he stays within a few metres of his sisters. But I am sure he will get there as well.
One of the children that had very little chance of surviving was Marevie. SOS volunteer Louis Klamroth found her. At the time she was just one year old, was severely malnourished and weighed just four kilos. After a long period of treatment at hospital she was taken to the SOS Children's Village. I have really seen miraculous changes in this little girl. At the beginning her big, empty and sad eyes avoided any eye contact with others. She was constantly carried by her new SOS aunt and was inconsolable if somebody else tried to comfort her. I visited her frequently and saw how she gradually improved. The little smiles she produces are priceless and welcomed by everybody around her. She has gained so much strength that she is now walking...and playing with the other children. Marevie looks happy, feels safe and loved in her new SOS family at house number eight. She surprises her older sisters when she walks around the house and starts playing with everything she finds. Marevie is developing into an inquisitive little girl who will definitely have a better future than could have been imagined when she was found....