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Unbroken: the people of Haiti persevere past the 2010 earthquake

A photo of a destroyed building and a new building.

New beginnings: Soon after the earthquake this young girl sat on the rubble of what used to be her temporary home, a centre for children that were orphaned and homeless. With the support of Plan, the centre was entirely rebuilt.

On January 12th, 2010 a 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated the people of Haiti, affecting 3.5 million, taking an estimated 220,000 lives, and destroying or damaging 4,000 schools.

Plan has worked with communities in Haiti for over 40 years to help break the cycle of poverty and promote children’s rights. So when the earthquake struck the small Caribbean island, we jumped into action to offer relief to families and to protect children.

Former Plan-sponsored child, Roberto, now 43, witnessed the devastation caused by the earthquake first-hand. He still recalls grave scenes of "complete desolation, destroyed houses, hopelessness" and much death in the disaster's wake.

But Roberto also remembers how Plan – the organization that sponsored him over 35 years earlier – took action to aid and protect the children and families of his community, throughout the emergency and the cholera outbreak that followed.

In the aftermath of the earthquake, some of Plan's initiatives included:

  • Mobile clinics in displacement camps and a newly constructed clinic that offered health care to those affected
  • The construction of several temporary and permanent schools (often in very remote communities, which Roberto explained had previously lacked modern educational structures and resources)
  • The construction of a school for children with disabilities
  • Disaster Risk Reduction training: “Plan also trained populations on how to react in earthquake situations so that they are more habilitated to save their lives,” he added.

However, Roberto didn’t just witness these projects, he also participated first-hand in Plan's long-term response efforts – crucial for supporting the full rehabilitation of individuals and helping rebuild communities in a sustainable way.

Roberto drives vehicle.

Today, Roberto offers transportation services for Plan.

Motivated to perform "more meaningful" work and help others, Roberto soon began working as Plan's heavyweight truck driver, transporting emergency supplies, such as hygiene kits and construction materials, in the months following the disaster.

"I felt so useful," he said, describing late nights of commuting across rubble-strewn roads. He attributes this work to some of his “most rewarding experiences,” stating: “I felt that my work was helping to save lives.”

Moving forward, together

Thanks to the dedication of individuals like Roberto, the resilience of the people of Haiti, and to the generosity of our donors, there have been many achievements and successes in Haiti’s recovery.

To date, more than 19 million cubic metres of rubble have been cleared across the country. Roads have been paved, homes and structures have been rebuilt, children have resumed their studies, and small businesses have begun to flourish.

Though significant and promising gains have been made since that destructive day in 2010, much remains to be done. As Plan continues to work with affected communities, we’re setting our sights on starting a new cycle of progress.

Have a look at some of the ways we’ve already helped create brighter futures since the 2010 earthquake:

  • Plan workers frame a building.

    Plan volunteers created Child-Friendly Spaces so that children could safely play, helping restore a sense of normalcy. Psycho-social support services were also offered to help children (and adults) heal from trauma, cope with new circumstances and tackle unique challenges.

  • Children sit, draw, and play.

    Since the earthquake, Plan opened several Early Childhood Care and Development centres, ensuring young minds were being properly stimulated to support learning and growth.

  • A girl is instructed to wash her hands.

    Plan provided essential water and sanitation resources and training to help prevent the spread of diseases, like Cholera. During this awareness session, within a displacement camp, a girl learns how to properly wash her hands.

  • A teacher instructs using sign language.

    Using sign language, Patrick (in blue) teaches a course on natural science at a school for youth with disabilities. After the earthquake destroyed the school, Plan offered temporary shelters and rebuilt the permanent structure.

  • Plan workers remove rubble.

    Plan organized several cash-for-work initiatives that enabled community members to get involved in repairing their neighbourhoods, while also earning a livelihood.

  • Daniel in the multimedia centre.

    “Our multimedia room was a hub of activity before it was destroyed by the Haiti earthquake in 2010,” said Daniel, 21. “The centre, supported by Plan, had been educating children on issues as well as teaching basic computer skills… I knew I had to be a part of rebuilding it.” It is now up and running again.

  • Children hold up Plan bags.

    Plan distributed over 30,000 school kits to affected children, giving them the tools they need to attain the education they deserve.

Help us protect children and families when disaster strikes, with immediate relief and hope for a better tomorrow.

Help rebuild lives.
Donate to Plan’s emergency relief fund
Or, call 1-800-387-1418

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