On January 12, 2010, a devastating earthquake hit Haiti, killing more than 230,000 people and displacing approximately 1.5 million. Children were orphaned; families were left homeless; and homes, schools and hospitals destroyed. Five years later, SOS Children’s Villages, the world’s largest organization providing care for orphaned and abandoned children, remains unwavering in its ongoing, long-term commitment to the people of Haiti.
“Efforts to rebuild the most affected areas move at a slow place, and the need to support vulnerable children and families remains high. Many of the children and families who survived the earthquake lost everything and experienced severe emotional trauma,” said Lynn Croneberger, CEO of SOS Children’s Villages – USA. “In 2010, we made a strong commitment to support these survivors. Thanks to generous donors and the Government of Haiti, we are able to continue to provide support to Haiti’s most vulnerable.”
For over 30 years, SOS Children’s Villages has provided family-based care and education programs in Santo and Cap-Haïtien, Haiti. Immediately following the 7.0 magnitude earthquake, SOS Children’s Villages launched an emergency program that provided child protection and emergency relief support, and included a series of construction, reconstruction and renovation projects. Through its food distribution program, SOS Children’s Villages provided meals for over 24,000 children every day. In addition, over 400 unaccompanied children were welcomed at SOS Children’s Villages in Santo, a province near the capital Port-au-Prince.
“The biggest challenge for SOS Children’s Villages during the earthquake was to find a way to welcome these children because the village was too small,” said Celigny Darius, National Director of SOS Children’s Villages – Haiti. “We installed temporary houses to enable us to take them in.”
SOS Children’s Villages worked to reunite unaccompanied children with their families. These children included 33 who were taken by U.S. citizens and then rescued by authorities at the border of the Dominican Republic. Reunited families also participated in SOS’ Family Strengthening Programs, which provide families with support services to prevent child abandonment. Children who were orphaned as a result of the earthquake found a new home at SOS Children’s Villages.