The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, after the earthquake On the evening of Tuesday 12 January 2010, the most powerful earthquake to hit Haiti for 200 years struck near the capital, Port-au-Prince. More than 230,000 people were killed, and millions more were made homeless.
The National Palace, Port-au-Prince The earthquake struck just ten miles south-west of the capital, destroying most government buildings as well as the offices of the UN Mission in Haiti.
“ I cried out to God. I can’t tell you what I felt. I can’t find the words” Carmen’s two daughters had just returned from school when her house started to shake. After the quake, she and her children lived in a shelter they fashioned from bed sheets and curtains. One year on, more than a million people like Carmen are still living in camps.
Our partners distribute food at a camp near Sacre Coeur In the aftermath of the earthquake, we launched an emergency appeal to support the people of Haiti. Thanks to your remarkable generosity, we have so far raised more than £5.3 million.
Emergency kits The money you raised funded emergency tents or shelter kits for over 12,000 people, as well as kitchen kits including pots, pans and utensils for thousands more.
Hygiene kits With so many people living in crowded camps, good hygiene is vital to prevent the spread of disease. Through our partners, we have distributed hygiene kits including soap, towels and toothbrushes to 10,000 families.
HAT 1 camp, on a patch of land near the Hyatt Hotel, Port-au-Prince We have helped build more than 440 hygienic latrines, showers and washing stations in camps like this one. We have set up “water bladders” – large inflatable tanks of water – that ensure 40,000 people have safe drinking water.
October 2010: cholera hits Haiti In October 2010, Haiti was hit by a devastating outbreak of cholera. We have funded projects to help educate people about the disease. In this camp, a graffiti artist helps spread the word about the importance of good hygiene.
A stable income Lucienne’s story Lucienne, 52, lost her home in the earthquake and has been living in a camp ever since. Through our partners, we delivered water bladders that supply clean water to the camp she’s living in. But, with thousands of businesses destroyed, finding money to put food on the table is difficult for people like Lucienne. That’s why we helped set up a cash-for-work scheme in her camp. “I sweep, carry water and wash,” says Lucienne. “It’s hard work but at least it’s a stable income. My kids are here and I have to feed them.”
Huge logistical challenges With many government buildings destroyed in the earthquake, including those housing records about land ownership, aid agencies have faced huge logistical challenges. The lack of proper records about who owns land has hampered efforts to construct new houses.
A permanent shelter project in Gressier In Gressier, just outside Port-au-Prince, there are good records of land ownership. That means we’ve been able to support a project that will construct new homes for 1,700 families. The new houses will be earthquake and hurricane resistant, and built by workers from local communities using sustainable materials.
“ God has provided” Celina’s story Celina lives in the Petit Boucan district of Gressier. “ I was fetching water to make tea when the earth shook,” remembers Celina. “I tried to crawl to a safe place, but I couldn’t. Then my son found me and carried me to a safe place. I saw people running around, crying and wailing. “ The house building project has brought hope to the community. In the community meetings we have agreed a plan. We will work together to build each others’ homes. There is no jealousy. God has provided.”
“ There is resilience in Haiti. For two hundred years, people have been coping” says CAFOD’s Marie Josette Delorme-Pierre (left), who is herself from Haiti. “That is what people are doing now – waiting and coping. It’s a big challenge, but the good thing about CAFOD’s approach is that we’re working directly with local partners who can deliver on the ground.”
One year on, the crisis in Haiti is far from over. It will take many years for people to recover after the earthquake. But thanks to your generosity, we have helped people to live with dignity in an extremely difficult situation. We will continue to stand by them every step of the way. Click here for more information about our work in Haiti
Picture credits: Mike Noyes/CAFOD Nana Anto-Awuakye/CAFOD Kate Orlinsky/Caritas Internationalis N Fischer/Caritas Switzerland