Over a year ago, on 12 January 2010, a terrible earthquake struck the island nation of Haiti and its biggest city, the capital of Port-au-Prince.
The country was devastated, with 230,000 people killed and more than a million left homeless. Hundreds of thousands of buildings were destroyed. The government lost a third of its employees and most of its buildings.
There was an incredible worldwide response to the crisis in Haiti. Governments, businesses and individuals raised billions of dollars to help rebuild the country, one of the poorest on the planet. You may have participated in a fundraising effort yourself, since many kids were touched by the tragedy and wanted to help. KidsPost wanted to update you on the situation in Haiti a year later.
The rebuilding challenge
The simple fact, unfortunately, is that Haiti is still in very bad shape. The Haitian government was so disorganized and ineffective even before the earthquake that there were not enough schools to educate all the country’s children. Today, the job of rebuilding the country is “almost overwhelming,” according to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The government’s shortcomings have made it difficult to distribute the billions of dollars meant to provide food, medicine and clean water to the Haitian people and to help rebuild their country. For example, only 5 percent of the rubble from the crushed buildings has been cleared, so life in the capital is far from normal.
Haiti has a population of about 10 million people, but hundreds of thousands of Haitians are still living in tents that were distributed after the earthquake. These tent cities are not clean and it is hard to keep them safe, so crime is a problem. There also has been an outbreak of cholera, a deadly infection of the intestines, that has spread rapidly because of unclean conditions. The disease has killed more than 3,000 people and could affect many more.
The state of kids
Because 5,000 schools were destroyed in the earthquake, some kids are going to tent schools, but there’s still a huge need for more classrooms. One program is turning specially ventilated cargo containers, like the ones you see on the backs of tractor-trailers, into classrooms.
Education is still a challenge in Haiti. Before the earthquake, “only about 50 percent of school-age children even went to school,” said Tiffany Kuehner of Hope for Haiti, an organization that supports education, nutrition and health programs in Haiti. A year later, “most kids are not in school,” Kuehner said.
Signs of progress
Experts familiar with the rebuilding efforts in Haiti say relief work is finally speeding up under the guidance of a group called the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission. It is being run by Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive and former U.S. president Bill Clinton. The group has set a goal of removing 40 percent of the earthquake rubble by October and has approved projects such as highways, apartment buildings and 250 temporary schools for children. But even with these projects underway, rebuilding Haiti will take many years.
Related Stories: Haiti: One Year Later |White House Blog