7 January 2014

Reflection on the Fourth Anniversary of the 2010 Haitian Earthquake

01/7/2014: As the fourth anniversary of the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti approaches, it’s important to remember both the progress the Caribbean nation has made and the fact that Haitians are still in need of humanitarian aid.

In 2013, SOS Children’s Villages worked harder than ever to provide children and families in Haiti with the support they need to overcome the lasting trauma of the earthquake. In September, SOS opened a new Children’s Village in Les Cayes, on the southern part of the island. Although there is still work to be done on the new Village in 2014, all of the essential SOS Children’s Villages programs are up and running. Family strengthening outreach, the Hermann Gmeiner School (serving not only SOS children but impoverished children from around Les Cayes), and the SOS Social Center (which includes a free daycare) are all open and available to local members of the Les Cayes community.

In addition to establishing a new Village, SOS continues to work to reunify children with their families—many of whom lost contact in the chaos of the earthquake. A temporary emergency program in Croix des Bouquets was created in 2010 to try to help nearly 200 children find their families. Some of these children were unable to return to their families, most often because their parents perished in the quake. SOS Social Workers have been hard at work reconnecting families whenever possible. In many cases, social workers were unable to contact family members through phone numbers or addresses, and so went door to door in local communities to locate parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles of the abandoned children living with SOS. 110 children have been reunited with their families, and SOS supported these families with food, clothing, and financial assistance throughout the reunification process.

Although Haiti has made great strides in 2013, there is still an incredible amount of work to be done. Recent figures from OCHA indicate that over 200,000 people are still living in temporary shelter camps across the country, even though it’s been four years since the devastating earthquake. In addition, a severe hurricane season in 2013 increased the number of cholera outbreaks, with WHO reporting close to 35,000 cases across the island. Disease and homelessness keep many in Haiti impoverished and food insecurity is still rampant: nearly 1 million people remain in need of food and nutritional support (FEWS NET). 

2013 was a year of progress for SOS Children’s Villages Haiti and for the country as a whole; however, much work remains to be done, and in truth, the aftershocks of the 2010 earthquake continue to be felt.