After 10 days living in the evacuation center, with little hygiene and few supplies, Michiko Takahashi worries about the health of her 1-year-old baby girl, Mion. I transcribed her story with the assistance of a translator.
“On the day of the earthquake, I had been at the doctor with my daughter. I’d just returned home and was changing her diaper when the earthquake struck.
“The house was really shaking hard, and I thought it would be safer outside. Normally I’d have stayed inside, because that’s what we’re taught to do, but the ground was shaking so hard that I thought I’d be safer outside. So I ran out with the baby, without even time to put on a new diaper.
Michiko, 22, holds her daughter Mion, 1, in the evacuation center they have lived in since being made homeless by a tsunami in Minimisanriku. Photo Credit: Andrew Wander – Save the Children
“I was about to go back into the house to get some things, when I heard the tsunami siren ringing. My mother shouted at me not to go into the house, and we started running to higher ground.
“I now know that my house was completely destroyed, and we’ve lost everything.
“I have only the clothes I was wearing, but Mion was given some baby clothes yesterday.
“Life in evacuation center is very hard. We’ve been here for 10 days, and I’m very concerned about my baby’s health. For the first nine days, we had no hygiene supplies given to us at all. Yesterday, we got three baby wipes (not packets, but individual sheets) and a couple of cans of milk.
“There’s nothing to sterilize the baby’s bottle with, and I haven’t washed my hands for days. I tried to go to the city to buy some supplies, but there is nothing in the shops.
"I’m very worried about my daughter, especially because she suffers from poor health. Even before the disaster, she’d been going to the hospital twice a month, and there’s no telling when we’re going to be able to go again.
“Mion is also very shy, and it’s really upsetting her living here, with so many people around all the time. We have no idea when we will leave here, or where we will go. Everything has changed.”
Dave Hartman, Save the Children, Internet Marketing and Communications Specialist
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
2010 was a busy year for Save the Children in Haiti. From the onset of the disaster our Voices from the Field blog kept readers informed about on-the-ground efforts in Haiti. We’ve created four Flickr slideshows that recap the progress we have made in providing relief to Haitians and look ahead at the work remaining to build back Haiti better.
Miracle Baby Winnie
One of the early glimmers of hope was the rescuing of a baby named Winnie. She was pulled from the rubble by an Australian television crew and quickly treated for dehydration by Save the Children medical staff. In May and October our staff caught up with Winnie who is now a healthy and lively 2 1/2-year-old. Check out the album below to see the newest photos of this “Miracle Baby”.
Cash for work, cash grants and asset recovery vouchers are among the programs that Save the Children supports, specifically targeting the most vulnerable families as identified by their own communities.
The most vulnerable include female-headed households and families with one or members who are more chronically ill or living with disabilities. Some cash-for-work projects also reduce future disaster risks – for example, stabilizing river embankments in Jacmel and protecting families’ assets from flooding by cleaning canals in Léogâne.
Through our support for farmers, fishermen and other small traders, Save the Children is contributing to economic recovery in Port-au-Prince, Léogâne and Jacmel.
These programs will ensure that families can provide food for their children, rebuild their homes and send their children to school.
Getting Schools Back on Track
Education is key to building a better future for Haiti’s children, and it remains one of Save the Children’s top priorities. We have provided tents, furniture and supplies so schools could reopen as quickly as possible, allowing children to learn in safe surroundings and regain a sense of normalcy. In addition, Save the Children has trained 2,300 teachers in disaster risk reduction so they’re prepared in the event of another earthquake and we have distributed school kits which include a backpack, notebooks, pencils and other essential supplies to more than 38,500 children.
Cholera Prevention and Treatment
Cholera first struck Haiti in October 2010 for the first time in decades. The global support Save the Children received, allowed us to respond quickly to the outbreak, which had not been seen in Haiti for decades. As cholera continues its deadly spread, Save the Children is intensifying efforts to prevent and treat additional cases in the areas where our health and hygiene teams already have a presence and have relationships with communities. Our health workers — reinforcing an intensive education campaign spearheaded by the government of Haiti and other international organizations — are broadening prevention and education activities to provide families with information about the importance of washing hands with soap, boiling water and seeking medical support at the first sign of illness.We aim to reach 600,000 people in six months with these activities.
On this one-year anniversary, of the earthquake, Save the Children and others have made a meaningful difference in the lives of millions of Haitians who have lost so much. But it is clear that the needs remain great and vast amounts of work lie ahead.The country’s children are both the most vulnerable, and the most resilient of its citizens. Investing in them offers the best chance for a better future for the nation as a whole. The global community must seize the opportunity to support a new Haitian government in creating meaningful change in the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable children. Save the Children is committed to Haiti for the long-term, and the promises that the international community has made to Haiti and its children must be kept.
Latha Caleb, Save the Children country director, Philippines
Oct. 7, 2009 Manila, Philippines
How does one stay focused when everything around you screams for attention? This is how I felt when I entered the evacuation camp in the CupangElementary School in Muntinlupa. There was stagnant water everywhere, 15 families huddled into one classroom, women bathing on one side, children playing, several pregnant women wandering around, people sleeping on the floor, someone washing clothes, another bathing a little child.
My eyes fell on a lady holding a little child. To me, it looked like the child was a few days old. I asked her how old the child was and she said," 2 months. " The baby did not look like a two-month old child at all.
I asked her when the child was born, thinking there must be some miscalculation, and she said, "July. He was born in his 7th month."
I held out my hands and asked her if I could carry the child and she willingly gave him to me. As I was holding the child she said to me, “The mother died giving birth to this child.” I was shocked, and angry, and frustrated all at the same time. Mothers dying in child birth! How could this be happening?
"He is being breastfed by other lactating women in our neighborhood,” she said. "He will need several mothers to replace the one he lost."