Thursday, January 12, 2012

Haiti two years later: "This is still a children's crisis"

OTTAWA, January 12, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Two years after the unthinkable 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti, significant progress has been made in reconstructing the country. Even so, Canadian NGO SOS Children's Villages warns that Haiti is still very much in a state of emergency and it is affecting children the most.

35% of the Haitian population is under the age of 15; half the population is under the age of 18. SOS Children's Villages has issued warnings that the number of abandoned children is rising steadily. SOS is working alongside other NGOs to urge the Haitian government, the UN Security Council and other international bodies to improve the quality of care for, and the legal situation of, the thousands of abandoned Haitian children.

"Because of poverty and impossible living conditions, families in Haiti are no longer able to provide for themselves," explains SOS Children's Villages Canada President Boyd McBride, "The situation of so many abandoned children in Haiti is dire."

McBride also stated,
"The crisis in Haiti is very much still a children's crisis. SOS is in the region doing what it can to support families and children, ensuring children have access to education and health care, providing needed social programs to enable mothers to continue to care for their children."

SOS Children's Villages, which has been active in Haiti since 1978, has been concentrating its long-term reconstruction efforts in the region on supporting children without parental care, supporting families at a community level and supporting schools.

During the first twelve months following the earthquake, SOS Children's Villages provided tens of thousands of children with food every day, giving medical care where needed and providing shelter to unaccompanied children. Over the past year, SOS has begun the transition to constructing new schools and expanding long-term social programs including:

...Supporting families and children in the districts of Port-au-Prince, Cap Haïtien and Les Cayes. The SOS Children's Villages goal is to strengthen the resources of the communities in order to enable the families, particularly women, to support themselves.

...Expanding the construction of schools: SOS Children's Villages is financing the construction of a community school and four public schools in Santo and the area of Les Cayes. SOS is also providing teacher training.

...SOS Children's Villages Canada have announced a new child protection program designed to reduce the number of Haitian children abandoned or separated from their families, and to improve the security and protection of children separated from their caregivers.

"With over half the population of Haiti under the age of 18, The reconstruction of Haiti continues to be a complex undertaking and we know from our work on the ground, Haitians are grateful to the many generous Canadians who have contributed to the process." notes Boyd McBride. "SOS has been in the region for 34 years. We're here for the long haul."

SOS Children's Villages provides children in need with a caring, loving, and secure family environment where basic needs for food, health, shelter, and education are met. SOS Children's Villages creates opportunities for children to become responsible, contributing members of society by providing Villages and community support where stable, nurturing homes exist to meet family, social, emotional and physical needs of children.