ChildFund’s work with CBM on behalf of children in Haiti continues.
Junie is a shy 16-year-old with a smile that lights up her face. She also has a cognitive delay and learning difficulties. Junie used to attend the Centre d’Education Special (CES), but since it collapsed in the earthquake on Jan. 12, she has been coming to a Child Centered Space operating in a tent.
Because her house collapsed during the earthquake, Junie lives with her mother, father and older sister on the street, and no one has been able to help them find permanent shelter. Her mother bought plastic sheets to build their new “house.”
Junie talks a lot about her mom, whom she loves very much. She used to help her mother with household chores, like cleaning and cooking. Now that Junie’s family is living on the street, she describes everything as “more difficult” but she hopes that one day she can have a new home where she can help her mom again.
Five days a week Junie attends the programs at the Child Centered Space, which ChildFund helped establish, and participates in activities such as coloring, counting, reading and writing. She regularly sits next to her friend Viola, who is also a student of the former CES.
Junie says she is happy to come to the center, but she misses the old CES building because of its large classrooms. She also misses the large garden where she played with her schoolmates. The tent is “small and so hot inside,” she says.
Her mother confirms, “We highly value the service that CES is offering us now. They are trying to give continuity to special education for our children, but we need more space and more teachers.”
Junie loves jumping rope and playing hide and seek with her friends in the small garden adjacent to the tent. She shares that she would like to become a doctor, and she knows that she should study hard to realize this dream. She says that when she becomes a doctor she will earn lots of money to rebuild her parents’ house.
When asked what she remembers of Jan. 12, Junie’s smile disappears from her face. She recalls that when the earthquake began she was at home with her older sister. Junie was washing dishes and her sister was doing laundry.
Suddenly the house started shaking and scared them, so she started shouting, pleading for help. Fortunately, the two girls escaped from the house before it collapsed.
Junie says that her neighbors all died during the terrible earthquake and she remembers being surrounded by people crying and shouting in pain. She laments briefly that now she has no more clothes or toys because they are all under the rubble.
Her parents do not have work now. They are living with the little money they had saved from their jobs before the earthquake, as well as money they have been given by friends. Junie’s mother used to sell used clothing downtown and her father worked for a company.
Her mother explains that life was not easy before the earthquake, but now it is even more difficult. She and her husband are waiting for their home’s rubble to be cleared so they can put a tent on the land that belongs to them and to start to live again with dignity.