|Two years after the earthquake in Haiti: Recovered and rebuilt humanity|
|Thursday, 12 January 2012 19:16|
What sense can we find in what happened? This is still the question in our minds after the earthquake on Jan. 12, 2010, left Haiti in a serious state of humanitarian crisis, having caused 230,000 deaths, destroying the homes of one and a half million people and destroying up to 95% of structures in some of the historical downtown of the capital city Port-au-Prince.
A surprising response to the question comes from a letter of one of the thousands of individuals in the U.S., in Italy and around the world who have given precious time and money to sustain AVSI’s response in helping the people of Haiti:
“Only one perspective is adequate to stand in front of the horror and sadness provoked by the images on TV and in newspapers: that life is given along with a task to be completed. This means we can participate in the rebuilding of Haiti by renewing our commitment to life each day, no matter where we are, proclaiming with our daily actions that existence is ruled by a positive design for us; we can proclaim that life has direction and a meaning.”
AVSI, present in Haiti since 1999, intervened immediately after the disaster with a major emergency response program in partnership with United Nations, reaching 40,000 people with provision of basic necessities as well as educational health and nutrition services.
To date, the AVSI team in Haiti led by country representative Fiammetta Cappellini has built and begun operation of 16 new structures: 9 schools, 5 nutritional centers and an educational resource center; in addition AVSI has helped begin artisan workshops including an attached community restaurant, studios for clothing design and bead-work, and production center for decorative wrought iron.
In addition, AVSI coordinates interventions in education and increasing school attendance, child protection, nutrition, agriculture, water and environment. Other projects focus on refurbishing and improving housing, beginning a distance support program with international donors, and promoting rural development in the southern region where, in collaboration with local authorities, AVSI is reactivating two aqueducts and drilling 10 new wells for drinking water. Other activities in the South near Les Cayes include the formation of agricultural technicians at the university level, the creation of community gardens with local associations of farmers, and the introduction of new supply chain and processing techniques for cassava and other local products, including methods to optimize soil for reforestation.
Now, the latest challenge in front of AVSI in Haiti is to build a second new educational center in Port-au-Prince, which will be funded with private donations received this year as part of AVSI’s annual campaign. This center will be in the Martissant neighborhood, characterized by rows of shacks climbing from sea-level into the hills, which is home to AVSI’s second-largest presence in the capital city, the largest being Cité Soleil. Here, AVSI will renovate a building on its surrounding grounds, which are virtually the only green space in the area. The goal is to create a gathering place for young people which is welcoming, safe and beautiful, which will be the site of after-school activities, handicraft workshops as well as trainings for teachers and for parents. These activities will primarily serve the 400 children with whom a relationship has already been formed through AVSI’s distance support program.
“The idea is to show that life can be different,” said Alberto Piatti, Secretary General of AVSI Foundation. “When we manage this, the young men and women put forth extraordinary energy towards something good, where before it was used only toward ruin or self-destruction.”