Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas. To make matters worse, natural disasters have devastated the lives of vulnerable families and children. In 2010, an earthquake destroyed vast parts of the country. In October 2016, Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti, leaving thousands of families without food or water, causing severe damage to infrastructure and claiming the lives of hundreds of people.
Families in Port-au-Prince are still recovering from the 2010 earthquake
SOS Children’s Villages provides protection to vulnerable children who have lost parental care (photo: SOS archives)
SOS Children’s Village Port-au-Prince-Santo (previously known as SOS Children’s Village Santo) is about 15 km outside Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. Port-au-Prince is home to nearly three million people. The city was badly affected by the earthquake in 2010, and it has taken years for displaced families to find new homes and to rebuild their lives.
The situation in Port-au-Prince is better than in other parts of the country, but the city still faces many challenges. Unemployment, poverty and high crime rates are some of the most pressing issues.
As the capital city, Port-au-Prince attracts many people who move here from rural areas in search of a better life. However, this hope rarely comes true. Many people who move to the city end up living in informal settlements. In these areas there is a lack of proper latrines and clean water. Transmissible diseases such as cholera (an ongoing problem in the country) spread much faster in such conditions.
Malnutrition affects the lives of vulnerable children and families
Malnutrition is also a problem in Port-au-Prince, because families don’t have enough money to provide the right kind of food for themselves. More than half of the population is undernourished. Around one in five children isn’t growing appropriately due to poor nutrition. This in turn makes them more vulnerable to illnesses.
Many of these illnesses are both preventable and treatable. However, there is a shortage of accessible and affordable medical care. The unstable economic and political situation has resulted in low spending in public health care. Women and children bear the brunt of this lack of investment – very few women receive prenatal care or give birth in a hospital. One in every 93 women dies in pregnancy.
What we do in Santo
Children growing up in the care of SOS Children’s Villages Port-au-Prince-Santo (photo: SOS archives)
SOS Children's Villages has been working in Santo since 1984.
Strengthen Families: We work with the local communities to support families so that they can stay together. We increased our activities after the 2010 earthquake and currently over 2,100 families benefit from our support in 23 community centres.
The community centres provide day care for young children – they receive a daily meal and take part in educational activities. We also provide training and advice so that parents can make a living and continue to care for their children.
Care in SOS-families: Children who have lost parental care can find a new home in an SOS family. Brothers and sisters grow up in the same home, and are cared for by an SOS parent.
Education: At the SOS Hermann Gmeiner Schools, over 1100 local children receive a high-quality primary and secondary education.
Support for young people: When young people feel ready to move out of their SOS family in order to pursue further education or vocational training, they can move into shared accommodation. We provide counselling and guidance until they are ready to live independently.