Nothing can be quite so terrifying as going about your daily business, whether that be at play, home, work or school and suddenly, and without warning, your world starts crashing around you, the land rises up engulfing friends and family as loved ones are crushed under rubble, never to return. Family ripped apart, whole communities destroyed, and many of those who could help build some form of future are already dead. 11% of the entire population of Port au Prince were killed in the tragedy and one and a half million were displaced. Damage was estimated at £4.8billion however only $600m was actually received in aid despite pledges totalling £1.74billion. Today more than half a million Haitians, 380,000 of them children, remain in temporary tents although a further million have been rehoused in temporary shelters and homes. Conditions have always been tough for Haiti children with a quarter of them undernourished and half a million never attending school.
This in a country that is already the poorest in the western world with 80% of the 3.43m children in Haiti living in poverty with 54% in abject poverty. Access to electricity is around 38.5% dropping markedly in rural areas (where approximately 53% of the population reside) with children getting most of their water from rivers, wells and springs. Only 15% of these children have access to improved sanitation leading to high infant mortality rates and even before the earthquake one in three was chronically undernourished with 10% of all children in Haiti acutely malnourished. Its should be noted that given intervention these rates are dropping though remain high.
Today there are around 610,000 orphan children in Haiti (one out of every six children in the country) with some 2000 living on the streets of Puerto Prince (above left) eking out a living by begging, theft or washing cars. Many join armed gangs to protect themselves and stay alive. It is believed that 20% of these street children have HIV/AIDS and most others have other illnesses mostly skin and respiratory diseases.
Only 200,000 orphans live in official orphanages and whilst some live with extended family or as head of child households, some NGOs estimate that around 400,000 children in Haiti have no adult carer and either have to fend for themselves or are 'restavek' slaves, given away for servitude, a practise deeply ingrained in the poor of Haitian culture. As early as 2002 UNICEF established that there were 173,000 restavek children in Haiti, however, following the devastation of the earthquake, the number is now believed to be around 300,000. Most are girls aged 9yrs or younger. In the video below Haiti children share their experiences of the 2010 Haiti earthquake and how it personally affected them.
One of the memories of the earthquake was when seven year old Kiki Joachin was pulled alive from the rubble.
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