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The children of Haiti speak up

In cooperation with Plan International, children and youngster from SOS Children's Villages in Haiti are joining a nationwide initiative which aims to include the voices of youngsters in the reconstruction of their country. 

The sun is a bright yellow circle and shining with long rays. A Haitian flag is proudly hoisted from the top of a neatly coloured house and twelve year old Sandra finishes off her drawing with flowers in front of the family home and by writing her name and age on the top of the paper. She and a group of other girls aged 12-17 years are gathered in the school building in the SOS Children's Village in Santo, in the outskirts of Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince. The task at hand is for the group to come up with a vision for a new Haiti. A Haiti after the earthquake.

Haiti post earthquake games

In the first weeks after the devastating earthquake on 12 January, priorities focused on rescuing survivors and securing shelter, food and medical treatment for the affected population. Now time has come for the Haitian government and its international partners to focus on reconstruction. In a joint effort with PLAN International a consultation with children and youngsters has begun in order to ensure that the voices of Haiti's youngsters are taken into account as the transition from emergency to development takes off. In different regions of the country, the views and ideas for the reconstruction of Haiti will be collected from more than 50 focus groups; six of which consist of children living in SOS families and of SOS youngsters.  The Haitian government, with support from the United Nations, the European Commission, the World Bank and other international actors, are in the process of launching a so-called post-disaster needs assessment (PDNA). The assessment will result in a guiding vision for the recovery of Haiti. "Half of Haiti’s population is below 18 years of age and it is essential for the success of the strategy to engage youth, as the development of the country rest on a positive transformation in the lives of Haiti’s children," explains SOS social worker Jules, who spend his weekend facilitating the focus group work.

With her bright-coloured drawing, Sandra shows a clear vision of what a new Haiti should look like. "I want a school for all children and water in the tap. I also want money to buy food and work for all people," she explains. Nine-year old Jeffrey has made a drawing with two persons holding hands. Words in Creole, a language spoken widely in Haiti, expresses his hopes for his country: that it may rise from the miserable situation following the quake and be a beautiful nation that others will admire. SOS social worker Jules explains that the boys have talked about their fears and how they have troubles with sleeping. There has been a lot of talk on the need for safe buildings and housing. Boys and girls work in different groups and according to age. Among the male youths aged 12-17 years there's even more discussion about the need of improving Haiti’s infrastructure, particularly roads and hospitals. "I want all children to have an education and to have a place to live and the right to a healthy life. I myself want to be an agronom", shares 14-year old Mainviel Jeanfritz, whose vision of the future also includes a bicycle for him and his friends.