A Fierce Rain in Port-au-Prince

Tanya Weinbergblogrszd

Tanya Weinberg, Save the Children manager, media and communications


Port-au-Prince, Haiti

February 18, 2010


It’s the middle of the night and outside a fierce rain has whipped up in Port-au-Prince.  It’s coming in thunderous waves, drumming across the roof of Save the Children’s office. 

It gives me a chill, although I’m warm, dry, and safe inside.  I’m thinking how none of that is the case for many of the students and teachers I met at the Bazilo community school earlier today in the hard-hit neighborhood of Carrefour Feuille. 

Right now, about 50 children and adults must be trying to sleep on the gravelly clearing up a steep hillside from the schoolhouse.  They have lost their homes, and some their parents, and now they have only a few small tarps to cover them from this unwelcome storm.

Downhill below their camp, the earthquake-shaken school still stands, but nobody sleeps there or enters for classes. 

The Ministry of Education has not yet evaluated if the building is safe for use.  That will happen next week, said Haitian officials in a meeting our education staff attended today.  Save the Children will provide one of the teams of expert inspectors to be sent to schools across the city.

So many schools have been utterly destroyed– like the St. Gerard and Paroissiale Schools in Port-au-Prince, pictured at right. ( Photo credit: Robert King/Polaris )SchoolRSZD15

I really hope the Bazilo school is deemed safe and the children can come inside from night rains and harsh daytime sun as they try so hard to learn. 

It was inspiring this morning to see half a dozen packed classes of attentive kids crammed into a modest clearing next to the school.  Teachers led the smallest children in song and then lessons on counting.  Just on the other side of a chalkboard propped up from the dirt, older children practiced multiplication out loud.

Nobody complained about anything.  Occasionally some of the youngest children would cry for no easily apparent reason.  But it wasn’t hard to imagine how many reasons there could be.

The school principal, an amazing woman named Marcelin Mireille, explained how Bazilo has become much more than a school.  It’s a haven for children who have endured and lost much, but can find routine and nurturing support in the school’s safe orbit—even if there’s little protection from the rain.

Save the Children supported the Bazilo school before the earthquake through the “Rewrite the Future” campaign to improve education for children in conflict-affected areas. 

Now the school and students need help more than ever. 

Today we brought some learning materials, but it was soon obvious that the greatest immediate need is shelter—especially as the rainy season approaches. 

We’ll also provide training to the teachers on using new materials, supporting the children’s emotional and social needs, and on urgent issues of disaster risk reduction.

I hope they are keeping dry.

Learn more about our emergency response to the earthquake in Haiti.

Help Us Respond to the Haiti Earthquake Emergency. Please Donate Now.

YOU CAN DONATE $10 TO THE HAITI EARTHQUAKE RELIEF FUND BY TEXTING “SAVE” to 20222 (US Only). Standard message rates  apply.

Rain Is Coming to Haiti: How Songs Can Help Save Babies’ Lives


Kathryn Bolles, Save the Children emergency health and nutrition director

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

February 16, 2010

The rainy season is approaching in Haiti, and we know that stagnant water and poor sanitation provide a fertile breeding ground for malaria and diarrhea, which are among the biggest killers of babies and young children.

The situation is made even more dangerous because in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in January, clean water and hygiene supplies are in short supply.

Malaria and diarrhea are easily preventable and treatable. So it is crucial for people to have access to accurate information in their language so they have the tools to protect their children.

RSZDMomSave29 This information is especially important for mothers like Fiony (pictured at right, caring for her 3-month-old baby Rosemary) Photo Credit: Adriana Zehbrauskas / Polaris.

Music is a natural entry point. When people hear a song they like, they are likely to remember the tune and the message.

With this in mind, Save the Children is providing broadcast-quality Creole songs to radio stations in Haiti.

Few people have television or electricity, but they are accessing information by radio.

Songs that incorporate lifesaving heath and nutrition messages can take advantage of this fact, reaching more people and better saving the life of newborns and babies.

The songs created by this project, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development, will be aired on local radio stations and Creole services provided by international broadcasters.

Using the power of music, Save the Children is taking action today to save a baby’s life tomorrow.

To listen to the Creole songs and messages, please click here.

Learn more about our emergency response to the earthquake in Haiti.

Help Us Respond to the Haiti Earthquake Emergency. Please Donate Now.

YOU CAN DONATE $10 TO THE HAITI EARTHQUAKE RELIEF FUND BY TEXTING “SAVE” to 20222 (US Only). Standard message rates  apply.

One Month After the Quake! Reaching More Than 300,000 Children and Families

Lee Nelson-Save the Children

Lee Nelson, Save the Children country director

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

February 9, 2010

The majority of Haitian children were vulnerable before this disaster and now, a month after the earthquake, their health, well-being and future are at increased risk.

Their families are caught up in a daily struggle to meet basic needs and rebuild their lives. An estimated 1.5 million children have been affected by the earthquake.

We are moving quickly to provide immediate aid to thousands of families, including providing food, water, household items, medicines and medical care, while we also implement programs to protect children and get them back to school as soon as possible. ( Pictured below a young child eating food recently distributed by Save the Children. Photo credit: Robert King/Polaris)

CuteBabyeat-Save the Children To date, our child protection program is helping more than 15,000 children through 18 mobile Child Friendly Spaces in Port-au-Prince and Jacmel.

In conjunction with UNICEF, the International Rescue Committee and the Red Cross, we are also registering children at hospitals and in camps so as to trace their families and reunite them with loved ones.

Haiti Three-Save the Children Save the Children’s mobile health teams have seen thousands of patients at 45 locations in Port-au-Prince, Leogane and Jacmel. Many victims of the quake are receiving medicines distributed by Save the Children at one of these mobile tents, pictured at right. ( Photo credit: Robert King/Polaris)

In addition, the organization has distributed food to more than 120,000 people, including 72,000 children. The agency also has provided clean water to more than 59,000 people; latrines for 7,800 people; and essential items such as blankets, hygiene kits, and plastic sheeting to some 48,000 people.

This is such a wide-scale disaster that affects all aspects of society that it will take years to for Haiti’s families and cities to recover.

Haitians are very resilient, but it is going to take serious and sustained assistance to help them build back and ensure a better future for their children.

Adding urgency to the relief effort, the rainy season is expected to begin in mid-March or early April.

Even under normal circumstances, poor drainage and sanitation infrastructure causes problems for the population.

This is expected to be significantly exacerbated by displacement and clogging of drainage channels with rubble from the earthquake.

Learn more about our emergency response to the earthquake in Haiti.

Help Us Respond to the Haiti Earthquake Emergency. Please Donate Now.

YOU CAN DONATE $10 TO THE HAITI EARTHQUAKE RELIEF FUND BY TEXTING “SAVE” to 20222 (US Only). Standard message rates  apply.

Urging U.S. Congress to Strengthen Haiti’s Capacity to ‘Build Back Better’

Charles MacCormack-Save the Children Charles MacCormack, Save the Children president and CEO

Westport, Connecticut
February 9, 2010

Last week, I testified on Haiti before a Senate Foreign Relations
Subcommittee with the hope that the Congress will hear the Haitian
people’s call for assistance towards recovery and lasting development.

For the past 32 years, Save the Children has aided the people of Haiti,
providing help in situations of short-term crisis and facilitating
long-term growth.

The magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti three weeks ago has significantly complicated Haiti’s development goals.

While the Haitian people are extremely resilient and have exhibited
much patience, their challenge is daunting. It will take a collective
effort today to give the children and families of Haiti a better

The U.S., along with non-governmental organizations and donors, should
intensify its commitment to building the capacity and systems of the
Haitian government and Haitian civil society to lead and manage their
own development.

Future funds must go to providing children and families access to health services, education and economic opportunities.

This is a long-term disaster and the U.S. must commit for the long
haul. Sustaining significant investment over the next 10 years will be
critical to ensuring the well-being of children and their families.

Haiti-Child Friendly Spaces-Save the Children

In the photo to the right, Douceset, a 14-year-old boy living in the tent city called Saint Therese, is able to study mathematics at one of the Child Friendly Spaces set up by Save the Children (Photo credit: Robert King / Polaris).

We must support Haitians to ‘Build Back Better’ for the children of Haiti.

Learn more about our emergency response to the earthquake in Haiti.

Help Us Respond to the Haiti Earthquake Emergency. Please Donate Now.

YOU CAN DONATE $10 TO THE HAITI EARTHQUAKE RELIEF FUND BY TEXTING “SAVE” to 20222 (US Only). Standard message rates  apply.

‘The Spirit of the People’ Still Strong in Post-Earthquake Haiti

Lee Nelson-Save the Children  

Lee Nelson, Save the Children country director

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

January 26, 2010

A little girl named Eliassaint, age 10, used to live in Plaine, Croix des Bouquets, a northern suburb of Port-au-Prince known for its rich history and culture. But the earthquake took both her home and her parents from her. She now resides in camp Cepem, Delmas 33, in Port-au-Prince.

The camp currently holds 400 families, as well as 38 children who have lost their parents. Eliassaint (pictured at right with another child in the camp) was rescued by her uncle.

Eliassaint: Save the Children“I was behind my house studying when the earthquake happened. My mother and father were inside and they died, so did my three cousins,” she said. 

“I do not have any brothers or sisters. My uncle looked after me and then he and my aunt brought me to this camp.”

Eliassaint’s story is all too common for many Haitian children. It is estimated that approximately 500,000 children now are unaccompanied, orphaned or left with one parent, as a direct result of the earthquake. 

The situation in Haiti, prior to the quakes, was already a precarious one for children. About 80 percent of the population lived on less than $2 per day, and one in four children was malnourished. 

There were huge problems with child trafficking and child education. However, this most recent blow is endangering the future of an entire generation of Haitian children. 

In the midst of this unprecedented calamity, two things have sustained the staff and given us hope for Haiti’s future. 

First, the spirit of the people has been remarkable. On the streets, where tens of thousands still sleep at night, and in hundreds of makeshift camps that have sprung up in clearings amid the rubble, there is still a sense of community where neighbors and strangers work together for survival.

Second, the scale and extent of the support received from Save the Children’s members around the world has been incredible. We are truly working together as a global organization with an amazingly dedicated team that have been willing to immediately act in aiding children in very vulnerable positions.

The heartfelt messages  of support, the highly qualified staff who report every day and the extraordinary amount of financial and media support has given me the sense of belonging to a family.

Child Friendly Space: Save the Children On the ground, Save the Children programs are rapidly scaling up, and every day we reach more and more children and their families. Already we have helped about 10,000 children, like Eliassaint, who now can play in safe spaces. None of this would have been possible without members’ critical assistance.

This is only the first step in a long road to recovery for Haiti. Save the Children has been working here for more than 32 years, and it is vital that humanitarian groups see this as a long-term effort.

In this initial relief stage, Save the Children will create even more Child Friendly Spaces to help children to recover from their trauma and provide their parents with time and resources for economic recovery.

Getting children back to school as quickly as possible will help return some semblance of normalcy to their shattered lives.

Many other challenges also remain, and the organization cannot do this alone. Disaster events can sharpen the focus on the true problems of a struggling country and provide unique opportunities to address fundamental problems in new and creative ways.

So this dispatch brings a message of thanks and a request for your continued support, guidance and vision to enable Save the Children to join in a common effort to help Haiti “build back better”.

Learn more about our emergency response to the earthquake in Haiti.

Help Us Respond to the Haiti Earthquake Emergency. Please Donate Now.

YOU CAN DONATE $10 TO THE HAITI EARTHQUAKE RELIEF FUND BY TEXTING “SAVE” to 20222 (US Only). Standard message rates  apply.

Andrise’s Family Receives Water, Hygiene Kits, Household Supplies from Save the Children Distribution

Colin Crowley, Save the Children multimedia emergency response team

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

January 21, 2010

Andrise_female_9yrs: Save the Children  

Andrise is a 9-year-old girl whose home was destroyed by the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Watch a video of Andrise

She and her mother are currently living in a makeshift camp in the neighborhood of Carrefour Feuilles.


On January 21, Save the Children carried out a distribution that provided people in this camp with much-needed household items, hygiene supplies and clean drinking water. I interviewed Andrise just after her family received the aid and translated her comments for this blog.

She said, "The day of the earthquake I was washing myself outside when the house started shaking, shaking, shaking. My little cousin was next to me and we got scared and ran back inside the house."

"When we got inside, one of the walls collapsed down to the floor. Another house right next to ours collapsed and two small babies who were inside died. I thought that we were all going to die. I thought it was the end of the world."

When all this happened, Andrise's mother was in class at the university and she had to run outside when the school building started shaking. She was shocked and scared because she thought that Andrise had died. But then Andrise's stepfather found her and took her back to her mother.

"I feel so bad because I have several cousins who died in the earthquake," cried Andrise. "I also have an uncle who died. I know so many people who died when their houses collapsed."

"Our family lost everything. There is a big crack running through our house and it is nearly destroyed. It will only take another shock to knock it down completely so we don’t feel safe living there."

"Now we are living here in this camp. But we’re not comfortable here in this situation because this is the first time we’ve ever had to sleep outside in a place like this."

"This morning Save the Children came and gave us some things that we needed. We had lost hope that any help was going to come, but this morning they came and they gave us water, soap, plates and things. Everybody lined up outside the camp to receive their things."

"I would like to leave this place and I would like for us to get a better place to live and have food to eat and all the other things we need. We don’t want to live this kind of life."

Watch a video of Andrise

Help Us Respond to the Haiti Earthquake Emergency. Please Donate Now.


Judith Louise and her Baby Helped by Save the Children

Save the Children: Colin Crowley

Colin Crowley, Save the Children multimedia emergency response team

Makeshift Camp, Leogane, Haiti

January 20, 2010

Judith Louise lost her 6-year-old son in the earthquake and very nearly lost her 15-day-old baby boy, who does not yet have a name because he has not been baptized.

SC_AZ33: Save the Children

"When the earthquake struck, I was in the bedroom," said Judith Louise.

"I tried to run, but it knocked me down and I couldn't go back inside to grab the child. Outside, they asked me where was my baby. I told them I didn't know."

"The baby's grandfather went back inside and he saw that the baby had fallen on the ground. The wall had collapsed next to the baby and he was covered in dust. When they pulled my child out, I thought he was dead."

Judith Louise's husband, Friesnel, said, "The baby wasn't moving or breathing. It took a long time to revive him. When Judith Louise started nursing him, though, he came back to life."

"We were lucky to find the child alive," said Friesnel.

"Our house was completely destroyed. We lost everything. Everyone's house has been destroyed, so now we are equal as one – you understand. We don't have anything to survive with. Even if we have money, we can't find anything to buy. Nobody is giving us anything. We're all suffering here."

Save the Children: Field Worker Friesnel worries about how his family will survive, living in the streets.

Save the Children's Kathryn Bolles (pictured at right) helps families like those of Judith Louise and Friesnel by providing medical and nutrition supplies.

"We need to rebuild our houses. Our baby is suffering because we don't even have money to buy milk. We need money to reorganize our lives. We need food to come to this country in order for all of us to survive."

Help Us Respond to the Haiti Earthquake Emergency. Please Donate Now.


Haiti Earthquake Emergency Podcast

Eyewitness Accounts of Haiti Earthquake Disaster Moderated by Cokie Roberts – Jan 19 2010

Save the Children trustee and award-winning journalist Cokie Roberts moderates the first, four-person panel session with call-in questions to Save the Children experts and rescuers on the ground in Haiti. On January 12, 2010, Save the Children launched an emergency relief effort to assist children and families in Haiti following a major 7.0-magnitude earthquake near the capital city of Port-au-Prince.

(To listen to the Podcast, roll your mouse arrow over the gray box and click.)

In this first episode, the speakers are:

Charles MacCormack, Save the Children president and CEO - 11 min. segment

Lee Nelson, Save the Children's Haiti country director – 8 min. segment

Kathryn Bolles, Save the Children's emergency health and nutrition director – 9 min. segment

Rudy von Bernuth, Save the Children vice-president and managing director – 6 min. segment

Learn more about our emergency response to the earthquakes in Haiti.

Save the Children Sets Up Child Friendly Spaces for Children like Angelo

Save the Children_002 

Filippo Ungaro, Save the Children, communications manager  

Makeshift Camp, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

January 19, 2010

Angelo, age 8, lost his home and all of belongings in the January 12 earthquake in Port-au-Prince. Today, he and his seven brothers and sisters are living with their mother in a crowded temporary encampment on the grounds of a church.  

Save the Children

The family survived with only the clothes on their backs. What little food they have they receive from friends. 

Angelo and his sister were just outside their house when the earthquake hit. 

“I was looking for my mum and I was really scared,” he says.  “Now we don’t even have a tent to sleep in. I don’t have anything, not even clothes.” 

Angelo, who would like to be a football player when he grows up, says he misses his home, his classmates and his school.

“I would like to go back home but I know that it’s impossible now. I’m not going to school anymore. It’s a shame because I like school,” he says. 

A third-grader, Angelo’s favorite class is grammar. Instead of being in class since the disaster, he says he spends his time playing with friends “even if I don’t have many here.” 

Save the Children is establishing a Child Friendly Space on the grounds of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ruelle St. Cyr, Carrefour Ti-Four, so that children in the encampment where Angelo is staying have a supervised place to play.

Save the Children_001

Angelo’s mother, Maria Josette, said their house had been paid for but now they will have to start over.  

“The situation is not good for us,” she says. “I have nothing left.”

Photo credits: Antonio Bolfo/Getty Images

Help Us Respond to the Haiti Earthquake Emergency. Please Donate Now.


Save the Children President and CEO Arrives in Haiti, Visits Center for Displaced Children

Charles MacCormack, president and CEO Save the Children

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

January 17, 2010

Save the Children: Charles MacCormack

It's a race against time to get food, water and medical supplies to the people who for five days now have received very little aid. At this center for displaced children, the kids now feel safer and are cared for by trained staff.

Even in the most challenging of situations, Save the Children has been able to deliver urgently needed food, water and medical supplies. And we are doing that right now!

We are working to set up Child Friendly Spaces in areas where families have been setting up camp.

These areas will ensure the safety of children in the camps.

It gives them the opportunity to play and begin to recover from the death, injury and destruction they have witnessed, and the lack of necessities they have endured.

Photo credits: Adriana Zehbrauskas/Polaris

Help Us Respond to the Haiti Earthquake Emergency. Please Donate Now.