Aid agency focuses on economic revitalization, investing in youth, meeting water and sanitation needs, and assisting the underserved Central Plateau.
Portland, OR – Six months after the deadly January 12th earthquake, Mercy Corps is providing Haitians with tools for long-term recovery while helping families fill ongoing basic needs. The agency, which started operations in Haiti immediately after the quake, has assisted thousands of Haitians with a combination of economic recovery, relief and psychosocial programs in and around the capital city of Port-au-Prince, as well as in Haiti’s Central Plateau.
This past weekend, Mercy Corps joined with the Haitian Ministry of Youth, Sport, and Civic Action and Haitian soccer player Boby Duval’s Le Centre L’Athletique d’Haiti to launch Moving Forward, a youth program that uses soccer and other sports to help young people recover physically, socially, mentally, and emotionally from the earthquake. Created and implemented with support from Nike, Moving Forward will reach 1,500 young people throughout Haiti, and train 50 coaches and youth.
“Mercy Corps is here for the long haul to help Haitians rebuild their country. Full recovery will take time, patience and smart investments,” said Mercy Corps Haiti Senior Program Officer Tricia Matthews. “This has been a tremendously complex emergency, with immediate needs for food, water, shelter persisting as people wrestle with how to rebuild businesses, schools and communities when infrastructure has been decimated.”
One focus has been boosting Haiti’s economic recovery. In the weeks following the earthquake, Mercy Corps started cash-for-work, which gives earthquake survivors temporary jobs to complete infrastructure and clean-up projects. Cash-for-work has helped more than 7,100 Haitians in Port-au-Prince and the Central Plateau to earn much-needed income and inject money into the economy. Workers have made significant improvements in displacement camps – especially for the rainy season - digging trenches and building retaining walls to prevent flooding.
Mercy Corps has also partnered with Fonkoze, Haiti’s largest microfinance institution, to provide hundreds of clients with catastrophic insurance and start up an online microfinance program that connects lenders with small- and medium-sized enterprises.
Another focus has been facilitating the emotional recovery of young people. Moving Forward is the newest element of Mercy Corps’ youth activities, which include trainings for teachers, parents and caregivers on how to help children overcome earthquake trauma. More than 1,200 adults have been trained; they in turn have reached 24,600 children. In addition, Mercy Corps has created workbooks for adults and children, and sponsored educational open-air film events. A partnership with Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, has provided Mercy Corps with Creole versions of two Sesame Home Videos and three short original films shot that will be distributed to approximately 1,000 schools, orphanages, hospitals and other organizations.
Mercy Corps is also assisting people in the Central Plateau, where an estimated 90,000 earthquake survivors fled from Port-au-Prince after the earthquake. This region has traditionally been economically starved, and families that have taken in quake survivors are stretched dangerously thin. In response, Mercy Corps is hiring 20,000 people for cash-for-work to rehabilitate roads, farmland and irrigation systems. The agency has also started distributing 7,000 cash grants to host families for food and other urgent household supplies to help them survive the coming months. In addition, Mercy Corps will provide monthly vouchers for food to 20,000 families and vouchers for shelter materials to 10,000 families.
Even as recovery begins, Haiti remains in a state of emergency, with more than one million people homeless and predictions for one of the worst hurricane seasons in decades. In addition to the much-needed jobs that Mercy Corps is providing through cash-for-work, water and sanitation services are two of the most pressing concerns in camps, especially as fear of water-borne diseases grows. Mercy Corps continues working in 28 camps where we have already provided water, hygiene and sanitation for 22,000 people. This work has included distributing hygiene kits with cleaning supplies and toiletries, and teaching good hygiene practices like hand-washing and treating water.
For additional information on Mercy Corps’ programs and progress in Haiti, read Update from Haiti: A 6-Month Report at www.mercycorps.org/haitiupdate.
HOW TO HELP:
Haiti Earthquake Fund
PO Box 2669
Portland, OR 97208