When the earthquake of January 12th struck in Haiti, it spared no one from its destructive power. Many partner organizations of Development and Peace lost friends and family members, their homes, and even the offices out of which they pursue their work.
Yet, for many of these organizations, their strong ties with their communities have made them a focal point where people turn for help and guidance in times of need. So without hesitation, our partners got back to work, organizing hot meals, having people camp around what was left of their offices and trying to get medical help for the injured.
As the initial shock of the emergency faded and the extent of the damage was revealed, it became clear that more than ever Haiti would need a strong civil society to rely on for the country to rise out of the rubble. But how could this happen with so many organizations left without walls or spaces to bring people together?
One of Development and Peace’s first actions in the wake of this disaster was to begin a solidarity fund for its partners to help them respond to the needs of their community and get back on their feet. This fund provided close to $1 million for these efforts.
This has helped 10 organizations resume their activities, such as ITECA (the Institute of technology and training), which lost its training centre in the quake. The centre is fundamental to their work, since small-scale farmers from across the country meet there to learn new techniques to improve their agricultural capacity. Their new training centre was completed in November and is already welcoming peasants for workshops on composting, building functional chicken coops, anti-erosion techniques and other vital information for their land.
In addition, money from the fund has contributed to the purchase of a new office and equipment for Caritas Port-au-Prince, one of the diocesan chapters of Caritas Haiti, which lost its building, yet is heavily involved in relief efforts in Port-au-Prince.
It has also helped community radio associations SAKS and REFRAKA relocate into new offices after theirs collapsed, allowing them to get back on the airwaves quickly. Marie Guerleine Justin, training coordinator at REFRAKA, was at the office when the earthquake struck. Listen here to her harrowing experience on January 12th.
There is no doubt that by supporting out partners in getting back on their feet, Development and Peace is equally contributing to bringing communities back together and getting the country back on its feet.