Haiti – August 14 2022

Life is still difficult

On August 14, 2021, a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, leaving an estimated 650,000 people in need of immediate humanitarian assistance. More than 137,000 homes and 60 health facilities were damaged or destroyed. In the year since, SOS Children’s Villages in Haiti has worked to help families rebuild their lives. SOS Children’s Villages in Haiti National Director, Ms. Faimy Carmelle Loiseau describes the support for children and families, and what more is needed.

One year after the earthquake, what is it like now for people living in the hardest hit communities?

In general, life is still difficult. Prices have increased due to the political and economic crises, leading to inflation. Fuel shortages and gang violence in Port-au-Prince have prevented travel to the South where the earthquake took place, making life very hard for the population. Many families still live in temporary shelters. They cannot rebuild their houses because of a lack of funds, and the government is not giving any type of support. Insecurity is rising. The economic crisis and fuel shortage often lead to unrest in the streets.

Globally, we see the world affected by rising prices for food and fuel. What is the overall situation like now in Haiti? 

For many months, fuel shortages have affected all activities in Haiti. The sale of fuel on the black market at prices four times higher than normal continues to destabilize the country and impoverish the population. The price of fuel has not really increased in the pumps, but as most of the time the pumps are not available, the population is forced to buy it at high prices on the black market. This and the other political and security problems in the country have resulted in a considerable increase in the cost of living,  causing a possibility of great food insecurity, especially for already vulnerable communities.

Can you highlight some of the ways SOS Children’s Villages helped children and families recover from the quake?

SOS Children’s Village, through its emergency project, helped in the following ways:

  • Emotional recovery for children and their parents.
  • Community awareness on child protection through the different campaigns and activities like child protection trainings.
  • Child-friendly spaces to offer a safe place for children to learn and play. The children are happy with the activities and more aware of their rights, and their parents are more involved in their education.
  • Provision of food for the children in our child friendly-spaces, purchasing all goods and products from people in the community to support local businesses.

In our intervention, we emphasize community participation. We sensitized the community leaders and members to child protection matters so they can ensure the mobilization of the communities around the project.

We observed certain changes at the community level, both in interpersonal relations between adults and in the treatment of children. The majority of children affirm that there are many changes both on the side of their parents and on their side. One of the children told us: “I have become the darling of the house”. According to these children, their parents have become increasingly tolerant and understanding.

All the parents believe that the programme offers essential information on important aspects of parenthood and on the notions of law and child protection. The majority agree that the training sessions have brought about a real change in how they approach parental responsibilities.

How many people has SOS Children’s Villages helped since the quake?

After the earthquake, SOS Children’s Villages provided psychosocial support to children and their families. We did this immediately for 247 children, conducting psychological evaluations when needed, offering recreational and psychosocial activities, and ensuring the children received meals during each activity.  Additionally, 430 families – some 1,600 people - received shelter kits, child protection training for emergencies, and a psychological assesment. Government agents and direct care staff received more in-depth training on child protection.

When parents and community members receive training on child care and protection, all children in the community can benefit indirectly.

What have been the main challenges in delivering aid or helping families recover over the past year?

There are many challenges that prevented or slowed the intervention after the earthquake. Among them: the insecurity, the economic and political crisis and the fuel shortage.

The capital Port-au-Prince is the main place to find goods and products. Projects and activities cannot run smoothly because gangs are blocking the national road and preventing normal circulation of people and goods between the capital and other regions. Materials purchased in Port-au-Prince cannot be immediately transported to Les Cayes. This situation has caused huge delays in the implementation of some project activities.

Was international aid effective in providing relief to the population?

It was definitely effective in providing some relief. However, the needs are still enormous. Even though the help has reached many people, there are communities that have not yet received adequate support. The international support that SOS Children’s Villages received from donors worldwide was of great help and it has permitted us to support many families and children.

Is help still needed to recover from the quake? If so, what work is planned by SOS Children’s Villages?

Help is definitely needed. SOS Children’s Villages aims to help as many communities as possible in order for the families to regain their independence. Our goal is to assure that the rights of the children are protected.