by Ellie Whinnery, ChildFund Public Relations Manager
and Virginia Sowers, ChildFund Community Manager
As the devastating impact of the earthquake continues to unfold in Haiti, we spoke with ChildFund’s vice president in the Americas Region Dula James to gain some insights from her two years spent in Haiti as director for another international NGO.
“Haiti always seemed to be in a state of transition from one thing to another,” Dula notes. “Every time progress was made internally, it seemed like another disaster hit and every group working there had to start work all over again.”
In 2008, Hurricane Ike lashed Haiti, flooding the island, claiming lives and wreaking havoc on the country’s brittle infrastructure. The basics of life — running water, food security, electricity, roads, garbage disposal — have long been scarce in Port-au-Prince, which has a population of 3 million.
Urban poverty is prevalent in the capital, as evidenced by the numerous slum areas, Dula reports. These conditions have contributed to high incidences of drug problems and human trafficking issues.
“A high illiteracy rate exists among the population, because education is not free,” Dula says. Even though parents want to send their children to school, they do not have the capability to make that happen. Jobs are hard to come by in Haiti.
With the latest natural disaster, Haiti’s children — already in a precarious position — are now at even higher risk. Schools and other community structures are totally destroyed in Port-au-Prince.
As ChildFund selects a partner organization on the ground in Haiti, we are especially focused on child protection and keeping children at the center of recovery efforts and rebuilding.
The paucity of government resources and infrastructure has slowed the delivery of aid to Haiti after the earthquake, causing frustration. Yet, there is a ray of hope in this grim situation.
“Haitians are very resilient people with a strong faith, and they love their country fervently,” Dula says. “They are hardworking people even in the midst of abject poverty.”
If you would like to donate to Haiti through ChildFund, click here.