Haiti, officially the Republic of Haiti, is a Caribbean country and the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. In 2010, a massive earthquake exacerbated the challenges faced by an already poverty stricken country. The earthquake affected the education system and destroyed more than 4,000 schools. Haiti’s literacy rate is alarming and less than 30% of students reach 6th grade. In the midst of this are the ‘restavèk’ children, this is a Creole word deriving from the French ‘stay with’. It has become a slur word for worthless. Driven by poverty and false promises, these children, mostly girls, are given away into domestic service by their destitute parents. The government neither has a system to care for or register them. Trapped in child servitude, they are defenceless and exposed to humiliation, physical, psychological and sexual abuse.
Main work of Tearfund:
In response to the environmental disasters, Tearfund Ireland through their local partners is still supporting those who had to face the worst.
Bellevue Baptist Church opened a school for restavek children in Port-au-Prince in 2003. This initiative taken by the leaders of the church means that nearly 200 children get to go to school and now have the opportunity to read and write. Several of the students participate in state exams and end up in University.
- During the academic year of 2014-2015, 189 students attended classes regularly at Bellevue School.
- Children received a hot meal before attending class and practical help with school materials and healthcare.
- 35 children finished elementary school and moved onto secondary.
- An outreach program to the parents and guardians began. The aim of the program is to encourage children to continue to attend school.
Read about our projects in response to the earthquake below.
Responding to the earthquake
On January 12th 2010, an earthquake struck Haiti. Before the quake 7 million people were already living below the poverty line.
After the quake there were 300,000 deaths, 300,000 injured and 2 million people were left homeless. Tearfund staff and partners, backed by the generosity of local church congregations, set about developing a three year plan to help to provide support for our Haitan partners.
Main work of Tearfund:
- Providng emergency toilets and training in disaster risk reduction.
- Thousand of farmers have been trained in agricultural techniques and have been given seeds and goats through our distribution projects.
- Children’s back to school programmes, trauma counselling and training in disease prevention.
- Thousands of trees have been planted.
- Hundreds of shelters have been built.
- Support given to a technical school to train builders into the future.
Getting the Haitian children back to school:
- Many children have benefited from projects such as trauma counselling, back to school programmes and grants for school fees.
- Disaster resistant classrooms were built at 40 schools.
- Special help was provided for children who had missed schooling in the form of accelerated learning programmes in literacy, numeracy and writing skills.
- Special support was received from Newbridge Open Arms church for the Restavek/slave children to attend school.
We are so thankful for your generosity and support as we continue to help the people of Haiti recover and rebuild their lives towards a brighter future.