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Rising from the Rubble – Haiti 5 years on

January 12 will mark the fifth anniversary of the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti killing an estimated 300,000 people and injuring 300,000 more.

The impact was overwhelming; hundreds of thousands of homes were destroyed as well as offices, schools and hospitals. There were 19 million cubic metres of rubble and debris in capital city, Port au Prince, alone – enough to fill a line of shipping containers stretching end to end from London to Beirut. Ordinary life came to a standstill as the country’s infrastructure literally fell to its knees.

International child development organisation Compassion has been working in Haiti since 1968., partnering with local churches as they seek to meet the needs of the children in their community. When the earthquake hit, it was clear that a huge response was going to be needed to account for each child and ensure that they could continue to be provided for. Globally, Compassion raised $30 million to help rebuild Haiti. Money that was used to rescue, rebuild and restore. Simple measures were put in place at first – canopies to provide shade where church buildings had collapsed, steel containers as offices.

Then, when the immediate crisis was over, a long-term school building programme was started; it will see 44 brand new, earthquake-proof schools constructed in the worst hit regions of the country. Water, sanitation and hygiene strategies are being set up to provide access to clean water and reduce child mortality rates.

But where Compassion differs from many aid agencies is in the fact that they are not a relief organisation. Compassion’s strength lies in the fact that it works through local people and has built solid relationships over years of commitment with the local church, business and government.

It means Compassion has experts on the ground from the moment tragedy strikes. And it means it has a committed, passionate staff who won’t leave when the immediate crisis is over because Haiti is their home, and the people that they serve are their community. It means that the money donated to Compassion will not just provide safe schools for over 20,000 children and clean water to tens of thousands more but it will help the families of those children get back on their feet through micro-enterprise initiatives and family support.

Haiti remains the poorest country in the western hemisphere with 60 per cent of its population living in poverty and 24 per cent of people living on less than a dollar a day. But there is hope rising from the rubble. Reconstruction is creating better housing and access to education; school attendance has risen from 79 per cent to 90 per cent. The infant mortality rate has fallen by 11% and maternal mortality by 23 per cent.


Notes for editors

For more information, photographs and interviews contact Bekah Legg: rebekahl@compassionuk.org 

Compassion is an international child development charity with more than 60 years’ experience working with some of the world’s poorest children. At present more than 1.5 million children attend Compassion’s church-based projects in 26 of the world’s poorest countries.

Improving water, sanitation and hygiene has the potential to prevent 10.2% of Haiti’s disease burden (in disability-adjusted life years or DALYs, a weighted measure of deaths and disability), or 9.5 % of all deaths in Haiti, particularly in children under five years of age Water borne diseases remain one of the leading causes of infant and child mortality. http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/haiti/overview
http://www.worldbank.org/content/dam/Worldbank/document/book_haiti_6oct_print.pdf October 2014


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