Raising a family after disaster

Raising a family after disaster | World Vision Blog

Bellanda, 10 years old when the 2010 earthquake struck Haiti, attends a World Vision Child-Friendly Space in Port-au-Prince. (Photo: 2010 Jon Warren/World Vision)

Bellanda was 10 years old when the 2010 earthquake struck Haiti. Afterward, she and her family are still able to pursue their big dreams for the future:

“I want to be a children’s doctor one day because I like babies,” Bellanda said.

See how World Vision's programs in the quake's aftermath set this family on the road to recovery.


After the earthquake that shook Haiti five years ago, Bellanda—10 years old then—and seven members of her family left their broken home near Port-au-Prince and moved into a World Vision camp for internally displaced persons. In the months that followed, Bellanda and her family became highly active in camp life and took full advantage of the wide range of services that World Vision offered for residents, including emergency distributions, water interventions, health care, mothers' clubs, youth clubs, child-friendly spaces, cash-for-work programs, and small-business training.

Before the earthquake, Bellanda’s mother, Netude, had had a small business selling household items, such as laundry detergent, that she would buy in the Dominican Republic and sell in Port-au-Prince. After the earthquake, Netude no longer had capital to buy merchandise.

Fortunately, World Vision’s cash-for-work (CFW) program provided sorely needed money to cover the family’s necessities. Both Netude and her husband, Gerard, participated in the CFW program, which paid residents to maintain the camp.

Bellanda’s family also met many basic needs through World Vision distributions of a wide range of household items like mosquito netting, blankets, sheets, plastic storage bins, tarps, a plastic basin, water bucket, sleeping mat, small charcoal cooking stove, water bag, and hygiene items, among others.

Nine months after the quake, World Vision launched a small business program and, after studying his application, selected Bellanda’s adoptive father, Gerard, to join. Gerard attended four weeks of business training sessions and received advice on preparing his business plan.

“It was great,” said Gerard. “They taught me sales techniques as well as how to manage a business and how to make a profit. They stressed the importance of opening a savings account and taught us basic accounting for keeping track of income and expenses. When you start a business, it’s to earn money, but also to help the community, which in turn will allow the business to grow.”

Gerard’s business plans included a shop for selling wholesale and resale items. Gerard received a small financial incentive to help him start his own small business.

Raising a family after disaster | World Vision Blog
Bellanda at home with her father, Gerard, with a basket of goods he sells, and her mother, Netude. (Photo: 2010 Jon Warren/World Vision)


Seeking to improve the lives of their children, Netude and Gerard were both regular participants in World Vision Mothers’ Clubs, where discussions covered a wide range of topics on health, nutrition, and hygiene, with an emphasis on childcare.

“Raising children is a task that should be shared equally among parents,” said Gerard, an outspoken advocate for making Haiti a better place for children. And while there were a few fathers in the camp who attended the Mothers’ Club meetings, Gerard emphasized how many more fathers should. “Most fathers aren’t interested in this kind of information. But I disagree. Here in the Mothers’ Club, they teach us so many things about life, like how to treat our children and how to help with their major needs.”

Netude agreed with her husband about the useful information she learned in the Mothers’ Club. “They have taught us so many things,” said Netude, “such as how to treat the water we drink, which foods are good for us, and how to breastfeed.”

As for Bellanda, she attended her own “club” in the form of a World Vision child-friendly space (CFS). Bellanda had been a die-hard fan of CFS activities ever since it first opened, and her parents were grateful to see her learning, singing, drawing, and happily playing with her friends, while gradually leaving the stress of the earthquake behind.

Bellanda described the CFS as “a good thing, because it contains a mix of children—some who don’t go to school and others who do.” Bellanda went back to school on October 4 of 2010, but still looked forward to attending the CFS at the times of day when school is not in session.

Bellanda enjoys many things that are typical of children all over the world. When not in school or the CFS, “I love to jump rope and play hide-and-go-seek,” she said. Like many Haitian children, her favorite meal is spaghetti, and when having her photo taken to show off her drawing from the CFS, she asked to be surrounded by her three best friends.

Gerard is not only a brilliant community spokesperson, but he is also very profuse in his thanks. “I’m grateful to the World Vision doctors and nurses for their healthcare and support. I’d also like to thank World Vision for the great work they are doing in communities, and I pray their work continues so they can help many others who are in need.”

The foundation of World Vision's work is child sponsorship. One of the best ways to strengthen communities to be resilient when disasters strike and quick to recover is by sponsoring a child like Bellanda! Choose a child in Haiti to sponsor today.

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