Haiti, one month after the earthquake

The earthquake on January 12, sunk the Haitian population in a most severe humanitarian crisis. The number of dead, estimated at 27.000, the thousands of Haitians that lie amidst debris, the more than 10.000 mutilated and thousands left homeless, show the magnitude of the tragedy. According to data from the Education Ministry in Haiti, half of the 15.000 thousand primary schools and half of the 1.500 secondary schools have been totally or partially destroyed. Unfortunately, our local partners tell us that rains have arrived, with the grave consequences for people living in the streets.

Mario Serrano sj, Jesuit Refugee and Migrant Service (JRMS) Director in Dominican Republic and local Entreculturas partner, writes these lines from Puerto Príncipe:

"I am writing to you at dawn and I share my grief with you. It´s raining in Puerto Principe. Many boys and girls and elderly will not be able to sleep. They will look for shelter in vain. The efforts of those of us who work with them, has not been able to avoid this new tragedy... It is still raining, I am protected in my tent, but thousands of Haitians are soaking wet with the little they have...May the God of life and love fill these people with strength to continue and give us all the inspiration and knowledge to look for agile and appropriate solutions. Mario Serrano, sj".

With the emergency phase still open, Entreculturas is working with our partners in a reconstruction programme based on three lines of work:

  • Education in emergency: The priority is to create an education project in five camps for displaced. With this initiative, we want to work with children in overcoming the trauma and enable them to return to school. The building of schools takes time and they have to recover their school life as soon as possible .
  • Education for reconstruction: It is a priority to elaborate a training programme for technical capacitating skills in the reconstruction works. Thus, we want to offer the Haitians a skill training that will enable them to re build their country.
  • Recovery of the education system. The schools of Puerto Príncipe and other cities have been severely affected. In some areas, 90% of the schools have been destroyed. On the other hand, areas less affected by the earthquake are taking in students from affected areas and they are completely overwhelmed. In this context, we want to promote a school reconstruction and teacher training programme.

Ramon Almansa, Head of Entreculturas International Cooperation Department has just arrived from Puerto Principe after meeting with our local partners. "The insufficient infrastructures and the level of poverty has made the impact of the earthquake a tragedy difficult to describe. The Haitian population now faces the challenge to rebuild a country that was in a deep poverty situation with no social structure".

Evaluation of the emergency phase

From Entreculturas we have been supporting this past month an emergency programme to assist the victims led by the Jesuit Refugee Service and Fe y Alegría, our local partners in Haiti and Dominican Republic. This programme has handed out water, food, medicines, refuge and hygiene materials, among others. Donations from the Dominican population have been collected and distributed by land through a network of 12 distribution sites in Puerto Príncipe, Léogane and other areas..

The balance of this first phase is positive and will last for two months. Data show that donations channeled through the Platform to Help Haiti, where the JRS is working, have up to January 25, assisted, 52.523 people, which means a total of 611 families, giving medical aid to 40.501 citizens and a total of 150 families. Up to that date, 27 containers have been sent.

Women in Haiti

The World Food Programme has given example as to how to focus on the gender issue also during emergencies, since women are a special risk group regarding the vulnerability of their human rights. The WFP has granted the food aid to the mothers in order to prevent the men from robberies or misbehaviours.

In this sense, the UN has taken an important step in pointing out that women play an essential role in quick recovery, efficient application and long term sustainability of the emergency aids.

Some organizations are ringing alarm bells in fear of women´s situation during the disaster, regarding abuses or lack of attention. Rapes that were occurring before the earthquake or acute anemia cases in pregnancies that do not survive delivery because of late arrival at the hospital or the lack of information since many women are not aware that deliveries are free, are some examples of women´s suffering in the country.

At Entreculturas we want to point out that we support this special attention to women in this emergency so that it may be the beginning of improving their conditions and situation.

Solidarity with the Haitian population

In the midst of such pain and suffering, Entreculturas would like to point out the signs of hope that we are witnessing both in Haiti and in Spain as everywhere else in the world. Up to today, we have collected more than 1.100.000 Euros for the emergency. We thank the Spanish society for its solidarity.