It’s been nearly three years since the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and many people there are still living in squalid conditions in camps. Families who had the means to leave the camps have now gone, and those remaining are among Port-au-Prince’s most vulnerable.
Knowing that even one child living in an unsafe and unsanitary camp is too many, World Vision is working on a project to help families move out of camps and into more durable accommodations. With World Vision helping to shoulder the burden of housing, families are able to invest their resources into their children's educations -- and most importantly, their futures.
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“Because of World Vision, we came to be here,” says Darline, a young mother, as she sits on her bed in her new home. Her best friend and roommate, Maryline, sits next to her. Their children chase each other around the house, giggling.
To date, more than 120 households have been able to leave camps with assistance from the program, with many more to follow. Darline and Maryline are two of the fortunate ones -- both single moms who, after too long in a camp, are now living together in a modest but safe and comfortable apartment.
“We are friends. We met in the camp,” says Maryline. “It happened that both of us were in the camp at the same time. We were there almost two years.”
The camp they were in was like many others: dirty, hot, flood-prone. They didn’t feel safe, and they were concerned about the well-being of their children.
Camp life is not easy for anyone. Since the earthquake, as more and more people have gradually left camps -- whether independently, assisted, or through evictions -- it has become clear that the ones remaining are those who truly have no other place to go. As time has progressed, these people have seen less and less outside assistance, trying to make ends meet in any way possible as they’ve waited for permanent solutions.
Camp life is hard -- but when it’s the only home someone has, being asked to leave is much harder.
“In the beginning, when we were told by the landlord that we had to leave the camp, we didn’t know what we would do,” says Maryline.
“The World Vision staff came to the camp. I couldn’t afford to pay rent, or to buy a house. World Vision couldn’t afford to buy a house for every single displaced person. They explained that they had figured out a way that they could help us leave the camp. We were told that we would be helped in order to be able to live in a rental home.”
Darline and Maryline found a suitable rental property, and they decided to move in together, meaning that they were able to afford a more comfortable apartment than would have been possible otherwise.
“We moved in here two weeks ago,” Maryline says. The apartment is small, essentially a cement box, but it’s home.
“It’s a huge difference. We sleep better,” says Darline. “We can sleep anytime, even in the middle of the day here. Living in the camp, we couldn’t imagine sleeping during the day, inside the tent. It was too hot."
That wasn't the only problem. "During rainfall, you couldn’t stay in the tent, and then what would you do? It wasn’t safe," Darline continues. "You couldn’t take care of yourself, be beautiful, be sophisticated or good-looking in the camp. Now I can be dignified, beautiful.”
Their shelter needs finally met, the two friends are now looking to the future.
“World Vision has helped to pay the rent for one year. We’ll be given a certain amount of money to help us to pay rent ourselves, next year, so with that money we’ll have to do small trade or something like that,” says Maryline, talking about the livelihoods grant that forms part of the transitions package.
“We could make the money back. We’re determined to make it work for us, make it profitable.”
Their children, now sitting at their feet, tired from playing, are clearly their priority. “We’ve tried hard with the children. We send them to school,” says Darline, and Maryline nods.
“It’s a big dream I have,” Darline continues. “I would like for my daughter to finish school, and to fulfill her dreams, whatever they may be in her life. If I were in her shoes, I would say airline hostess. That’s what I dream of for her, but it’s up to her, not me.”
Maryline chimes in as well. “My boy has already chosen what he’ll be in his life,” she says. “He’d like to be a doctor. As long as I live, I’d like to be able to help him to fulfill his dream. The kids both go to school. They still went to school in the camps. That’s one thing we’d never negotiate.
In the camp, it meant we had to sacrifice other things for education," Maryline continues. "For example, sometimes I wouldn’t have money to pay the school tuition, and I’d have to turn to a friend to borrow money to pay the school fees. It was very hard and we had to sacrifice, but we made it happen.
“I just have to say thank you to you. And I would like for World Vision not to forget us now,” Maryline concludes. “This will make it easier for us to pay for schooling. It’s one thing you can put hope in. One of the only things. In Haiti, it’s the biggest gift you can give."
World Vision is honored to be partnering with the 10X10 campaign, an effort aimed at moving individuals from awareness to action through World Vision’s programs on the ground. We share a commitment to the global empowerment of girls through education.
Haiti is a country where girls have a particularly difficult time staying in school. As part of our ongoing efforts to help the country rebuild after the 2010 earthquake, World Vision works to provide parents like Darline and Maryline with the resources they need to provide their children with an education.
Sponsor a girl in Haiti or country of your choice today. Your love and commitment will help provide her with life-giving essentials, such as the chance to go to school, get an education, and pursue her dreams. By investing in the life of a girl, you're investing in the health of an entire community!