SOS Children in Haiti
Four years after the earthquake in Haiti, SOS Children is working to rebuild lives of earthquake orphans and vulnerable children.
Overview of Haiti
Haiti is located in the West Indies bordering with the Atlantic Ocean in the north, the Dominican Republic in the east, the Caribbean Sea in the south, and the Windward Passage in the west. A mostly mountainous country with a tropical climate, the country was the first Caribbean state to achieve independence.
In January 2010 the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince, was hit by a devastating earthquake which killed many thousands of people and left many children orphaned and without homes.
Before the earthquake, Haiti was already a desperately poor country. Decades of environmental degradation, violence, instability and dictatorship left it as the poorest country in the Americas and in the Western hemisphere. Half of the 10 million population receives less than 75 per cent of the required daily calorie intake. The diet is poor and consists mainly of rice and beans.
Health care is scarce and prohibitively expensive. Infant mortality rates are high and thousands of children are orphaned.
Although education is compulsory for children from the ages of seven to fourteen, the lack of classroom space and trained teachers makes it difficult to enforce this law. Only 10 per cent of the country's primary schools are provided by the government; the rest are private.
Our Work in Haiti
SOS Children's Villages began its work in Haiti in 1982 when the first Village was established in the small rural settlement of Petite Place Cazeau, near the capital of Port-au-Prince. In 2003 the project was handed over to a local church organisation. We now have two SOS Children's Villages and are planning to construct a further two during 2012/13.
Another Haitian SOS Children's Village was built in Santo in 1983, approximately 15km from Port-au-Prince. It has 19 family houses and an SOS Youth Home with the capacity to give a home to 190 children. Each family house has its own garden to grow vegetables and fruit.
Following economic collapse in the country in 1986, high unemployment resulted in many families becoming desperately poor. Children in particular began to suffer increased levels of malnutrition and dietary deficiencies as well as living in poverty. Therefore, SOS Children decided to increase its presence in the country and in the late 1980s the SOS Children's Village Cap Haitien was established.
One of the new SOS Children's Villages will be located in Les Cayes – Haiti’s third-largest city in the south of the country – which will give a home to 135 orphaned and abandoned children.
The second new SOS Village will be based in Croix-de-Bouquets, on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, and will have the capacity to care for approximately 140 orphaned children. This Village will accommodate some of the 100 children who are currently still cared for by SOS Children in temporary accommodation in Port-au-Prince.
Life in SOS Children's Villages Haiti: Walaxte, the all-round talent
Walaxte was born in 1992 and came to SOS Children's Village Cap Haitien in 1996. He is the oldest youth in his SOS family and likes to help his SOS mother clean the house or look after smaller siblings. His SOS mother counts on him and is thankful for the help he provides at home.
Walaxte is in eighth grade at the SOS Secondary School, and he is also at his third year at the SOS Vocational Training Centre in Cap Haitien where he will soon graduate from his course in "fitting mechanics".
The intelligent boy has many hobbies. Among other things, he is a great gardener. Next to his house, he has planted bananas, vegetables and congo peas. He gives part of his harvest to the house which his SOS mother is very pleased about! He also likes fishing; when it rains a lot, water remains in the soil and after a few weeks he takes his basket to go fishing.
Due to his interest in crafts and engineering, Walaxte is also a handyman. He knows how to repair technical devices such as radios, televisions and mobile phones.
Last, but certainly not least, he is very good at drawing and painting. However, Walaxte lacks self-confidence and sometimes struggles to make the most from his various talents, especially as an artist. The Village director and his SOS mother are, however, convinced that these talents deserve and need to be cultivated and are planning to enrol him in an arts school so that he can pursue his artistic potential further.
SOS Villages d'Enfants HaitiBoîte Postale 966 et 1691
Tel: +509 2519 0797 +509 3702 2069