30 January Jan 2013 1125 30 January 2013

Haiti: 3 years after the earthquake, still a need for a people reborn

In Haiti is often easy to focus on what is still missing but we'd like to focus on some facts and faces to give evidence of what has been growing since the earthquake hit in 2010:

- 40,000 individuals provided with basic and emergency needs in 2010 (tents, food, water, clothing, school for children and nutrition-health centers) - 16 new structures built: 9 schools, 5 nutritional centers and an educational resource center; 3 artisan workshops, and a community restaurant, studios - 1 aqueduct restored to provide safe drinking water to 10,000 people - 12 nutrition centers operating, 7 in the capital city and 5 in Les Cayes, serving 15,000 malnourished children under the age of 5, pregnant and nursing mothers - 1,500 children supported to attend school in around 100 local public and private schools - 40,000 children have received school supply kits (notebooks, textbooks, backpacks) - 2,000 farmers have received training, technical assistance and material inputs (tools, seeds) - 300 students at the School of Agriculture at University of Notre Dame of Haiti (UNDH) in Les Cayes have benefitted from an operational experimental farm and agricultural small business to gain practical experience.

“The Haitian people must be reborn… We are called to assume our responsibility, by taking care of our present and our future with determination, with wise and intelligent planning options, in view of our autonomy.” These are the words of the Haitian Bishop Yves-Marie Péan of Gonaives on the occasion of Independence Day, celebrated on January 1st . On the same day President Joseph Michel Martelly gave an address underlining how political crisis, economic difficulty and natural disasters have seriously slowed Haiti’s growth. “If Haiti wants to be the owner of its own destiny,” Martelly said, “it must not lose the battle for development.”
Today, over 360,000 Haitians are still living in tent camps set up after the earthquake in 496 locations throughout the country, according to the latest report by the International Organization for Migration (OIM). More than half of these (58%) are unemployed, and 57% of families reported having only a single parent, making income generation even more difficult. With this report, OIM urges the international community and donors not to abandon Haiti or to forget the many families who need more time in order to begin again on a path to stability.
Food security, nutrition, water, education, child protection, income generation: these give a snapshot of the integrated projects being carried forward by the AVSI team in Haiti including around 100 staff members, most of them Haitians. In the last 3 years, they have built and begun operation of 16 new structures in Cité Soleil and Martissant, two of the most conflict-ridden slums of the capital city: 9 schools, 5 nutritional centers and a multi-purpose psychosocial and educational resource center. In addition, AVSI has helped residents begin to earn an income through a community restaurant and studios for clothing design, bead-work, and iron-shaping that are marketed locally and abroad.
In a perspective of development, AVSI participates in a multiannual program AQUAPLUS carried out by a partnership among several actors: Rotary International Distretto 2040 and Rotary Club Milano per Milano Foundation as leaders, EXPO 2015, The University of Milan, Unicredit Foundation and MLFM. The aim of AQUAPLUS is “Feeding the planet, energy for life” through the implementation of activities such as the renovation and upgrade of an aqueduct for domestic use, training for agricultural technicians, development of the cassava supply chain and other local products.
There is still a long and difficult road ahead for Haiti, but after three years we can see large steps forward: rebuilt schools are in session, children are studying, mothers and fathers are learning to sew and to raise crops to sell and feed their families. Slowly, but steadily, Haiti is blossoming again.