You are here

“This is the spirit that will rebuild Haiti"

In Haiti, we know that distributions are only part of the answer. In our focus group discussions, women made it clear: jobs are a priority and work is seen as freedom.

One woman said: “If you work, you can have a house and not depend on others…you can eat regularly…Without work you are still a slave.”

Cash for work

So, last week our teams hit the street with a cash-for-work clean-up campaign that targets the poorest, most vulnerable women. The $5 a day they earn will put desperately-needed money straight into their pockets.

In the coming weeks, we hope to recruit 7,000 workers. In addition, we’re providing $75 to 7,500 women to help them restart their small businesses.

We have also been using mobile phones to transfer cash directly into people’s hands. Similar to the system we have used in Kenya, this will facilitate cash distributions in slum areas that could otherwise be highly risky.

Malnutrition

Chronic malnutrition was a huge problem in Port-au-Prince prior to the crisis. Concern has screened over 3,000 children under five years of age and has referred those that are malnourished to one of our eight therapeutic centres.

Hospital

Some of the children we have screened are really sick and acutely malnourished. They are being transferred to the nutrition stabilisation unit which we opened at the General Hospital. In the past few weeks, 37 severely malnourished children have received 24-hour care.

The numbers are big, sometimes too big to take in, but lots of people here wouldn’t stand a chance if Concern wasn’t here. And we wouldn’t be here without the generosity of our supporters.

Counselling

Many women, who were sick, dehydrated and traumatised, stopped breast feeding after the earthquake. To address this, we have set up six tents where women are given gentle counselling in a safe, quiet place, with the aim of encouraging them to breast feed again. About 60 women are coming to each tent every day.

Hope for tomorrow

Haiti has faced tough times before, but this is their biggest challenge and they will overcome it. Back in 2008, when three successive hurricanes hit the island, our staff made Concern t-shirts with these words printed on them: “We are the hope for tomorrow - working together for better future.”

I noticed that many were wearing these t-shirts after the earthquake. When I asked why, I was told something that has stuck with me ever since: “This is the spirit that will rebuild Haiti, because this spirit cannot be buried under the rubble.”