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Pupils in Collège Verena. (Source: Kindernothilfepartner)

Haiti 10 years after the earthquake: "Schools are standing, but we need a functioning state at last"

(Duisburg/Port-au-Prince, 08.01.20) On 12 January 2010, the earth shook so devastatingly in the southeast of Haiti that the Caribbean state has not recovered from it to this day. More than 230,000 people lost their lives, countless suffered injuries and around two million became homeless. The solidarity and willingness to donate for Haiti was overwhelming. But the problems of the poorest state in the western hemisphere worsened after the quake. "We urgently need a functioning, committed state, good public hospitals, more schools and finally sufficient funds for educational investments," demands Pierre-Hugue Augustin, head of the Kindernothilfe office in Haiti. This is the only way to overcome the extreme poverty in Haiti. The reality currently looks different. Burning street barricades, shootings, robberies. Port-au-Prince is a theatre of war. The failure of the state endangers the lives of countless children in Haiti. Partner of Kindernothilfe have continued their work with the greatest effort and - where possible - have created contact points for children and young people. The sustainable strategy on which Kindernothilfe already relied during the reconstruction is now paying off.

Augustin draws a positive balance of the past ten years despite the political adversities. "We have succeeded in rebuilding nine destroyed schools, in some cases under the most difficult conditions, and have also built four new educational centers. Children, parents and neighbours were and are intensively involved in all projects. In addition, 314 self-help groups with 6,097 women have been founded to date. In these grassroots networks, women learn how to work their way out of poverty independently. They are also trained in how to solve social problems and become politically active. In the current crisis these groups create a space for women to get involved and support each other.

"Our strategy has always been to make a sustainable contribution. These schools," Pierre-Hugue is sure, "will still exist in twenty or thirty years time, and they will help to change the face of entire slums and villages through the generations of children who learn together here and build up self-confidence.

Kindernothilfe has been active in Haiti for more than 45 years and was on the spot immediately after the earthquake: Employees of local partner organizations provided medical support, distributed food and informed about vital hygiene measures. With 16 children's centers, which geographically covered large parts of the disaster area, the relief organization created contact points for thousands of girls and boys. Here, children found shelter and psychological help after the turmoil of the earthquake. EUR 3.7 million was allocated to these emergency aid measures. A further 14.2 million euros were invested, among other things, in the reconstruction and new construction of educational facilities and the establishment of the self-help programme.

As one of the largest Christian child rights organizations in Europe, Kindernothilfe has been supporting disadvantaged girls and boys on their way to an independent and self-determined life for 60 years. It supports around 600 projects and provides humanitarian assistance. Currently Kindernothilfe protects, strengthens and supports more than 2 million children and their families and communities in a total of 32 countries around the world in order to improve their living conditions in a sustainable way.