Les Cayes, Haiti: Inauguration of new SOS Children's Village and school mark 5-year earthquake anniversary
On five-year anniversary of the terrible earthquake that killed more than 200,000 in Haiti, SOS Children’s Villages weighs progress of recovery and inaugurates new school and Children's Village.
[FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE]
12 January 2015 - Five years after the earthquake that took more than 200,000 lives in Haiti and devastated the island, SOS Children’s Villages continues its work to help Haiti's children and families with the inauguration of a new Children’s Village, our third in Haiti, and a new Hermann Gmeiner School in Les Cayes, in the south of Haiti.
- Children who lost parents in the earthquake now enjoy loving homes, health care and full access to quality education
- International guests highlight SOS Children’s Villages’ investment in Haiti’s educational system
Comments from International Guests
SOS Children’s Villages International Chief Operating Officer Hanne Rasmussen attended the inauguration along with representatives of SOS Haiti, donors, officials, and representatives of partner NGOs.
Rasmussen said: “On this occasion of almost the fifth anniversary of the earthquake that harmed Haiti so much, once again the eyes of the world are directed at Haiti and what you have achieved in the last five years. When we look back at what SOS Haiti has achieved here together with its partners, it’s no small feat. Almost every child who was brought to SOS Children’s Villages for reunification with his or her family has been reunified. Also SOS Haiti opened its doors to many more children after the crisis hit, in particular abandoned children. It is impressive that SOS Haiti, together with its international partners, has got more than 7,000 children into education.”
SOS Haiti National Director Darius Celigny said: “More and more children need a family that guarantees them the right to education, development, and food. Following the earthquake SOS Children’s Villages redoubled our efforts. Nowhere is a child better placed than with their biological family, but in the absence of that each child needs a family, and a family home.”
Addressing the children, Michael Karlsson, president of SOS Children’s Villages Sweden, said: “I am so happy for you that you have a new life here, with a mother, brothers and sisters, and of course a loving home. I am happy to be able to rely on the fact that if you are hungry you get fed, and if you are ill, you will be taken care of, and just as importantly, you will have an opportunity to go to school. Education is the key to a better future, not just for you but for everyone in Haiti … Education is power, and you have a right to education. Just as you have a right to a safe and stimulating environment in a village such as this.”
The president of SOS Children’s Villages Belgium, Barbara Francois, said: “The building of the school illustrates the importance of education for Haiti in the vision of SOS Children’s Villages Belgium. It’s so precious to be able to create such an environment for all these young people who will one day be contributing to development in Haiti.”
SOS Children’s Villages Haiti Board President Me. Jean-Baptiste Brown recalled that at the height of the crisis following the earthquake, SOS Children’s Villages looked after more than 500 children, lodging them, giving them food and other care. Also at the height of the crisis, SOS was serving more than 20,000 hot meals per day.
Construction of the new Children’s Village in Les Cayes began at the end of December 2012, and the ‘laying-of-the-first-stone’ ceremony was held on 11 March 2013.
The Children’s Village includes 14 family houses, an administration area, a house for the SOS ‘aunts’ [who help look after the children] and another for visitors. Situated on a large plot of land covering almost 26,000 square metres, the village offers the children ample recreational space.
Currently 63 children have loving homes in the village. Besides the SOS mothers and aunts, the village staff also comprise social workers, two family facilitators, one child development assistant, one administrative secretary, and Village Director Volny Etienne.
Mother and child express joy
Cloreine, who has been an SOS mother for five years, looks after four children and has been living in the Children's Village in Les Cayes since September 2013. She said: “It is such a joy to have all these people here. To look after children in a village like this is something extraordinary. It makes me so happy to be with the children, to protect them, to live with them, and to support them.”
She added: “It makes me so happy to see this new village and school in Haiti, where there are so many problems. SOS provides the children a joy of life, and that’s something valuable and good for Haiti.”
One of the children she cares for, four-year-old Marcelino*, said: “I liked the dancing and the music and all the happiness at the inauguration. I like the new village and school, because there’s a lot of space to play in. I especially like playing football with my friends.” He added: “I like the other children in my SOS family, especially the [two-year-old] baby.”
The SOS Children’s Villages Emergency Programme for Haiti, launched after the earthquake, comprises a series of construction, reconstruction and renovation projects. The organisation has made significant investment in the country’s educational system, with the construction or renovation of eight schools. The project was made possible thanks to funds from various donors, and the support of SOS Children’s Villages member associations in Sweden, Germany, Norway, France, Austria, USA, Netherlands, and Luxembourg.
*Name changed for privacy reasons.
More recent news about SOS Children’s Villages in Haiti is available here.
The history of SOS Children's Villages' work in Haiti can be found here.
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