Salesian Missions was saving the children of Haiti long before the earthquake. Salesian Missions has been working in Haiti since 1936 and will stay in Haiti as long as there are children in need. Before the quake, food and basic needs were provided to youth and their families. Primary schools gave opportunity to smiling children. Youth centers housed homeless youth. Young adults trained to be teachers, builders, farmers and nurses. Since the quake, Salesian Missions has worked tirelessly to again provide all it can to those in need in Haiti, focusing on its specialty – the youth. Salesian Missions is giving hope to Haiti by giving hope to its youth. They are again training, studying and building. They are preparing to rebuild their country. In the midst of despair, the future is brighter for Haiti because of Salesian Missions and those who give generously to fund the priceless work.
As the six-month mark came and went, the focus in the media was the lack of progress. It is true that so much still needs to be done. There was suffering and serious need before the earthquake and it was only compounded by this tragedy. The situation remains critical and steps toward progress often meet the unexpected. But, there is progress.
Positive steps have been achieved and Salesian Missions is making a true difference. As it was before the quake, there is so much that simply would not be possible without this presence in Haiti (and without the support of generous donors). Some humanitarian organizations and many people have left the country, but Salesian Missions will continue its work throughout the country.
The following has been accomplished in Haiti since the devastating earthquake:
- In Port-au-Prince, lessons are being taught on the grounds where the National School of Arts & Trades (ENAM) once stood. Daily classes are being held in prefabricated buildings.
- In Fort-Liberté, nursing training is taking place at the only school for nurses left in Haiti.
- Students have returned to tent classrooms and pre-fabricated classrooms, and 40 teachers have been hired.
- In Pétionville, all activities have started up again at primary school, high school, technical and vocational training schools. The boundary walls have been rebuilt to provide security and safety for the children.
- At a facility for agricultural training in Cap-Haitien, teachers are still receiving salaries and school meals are being provided.
- 9,000 middle school students receive breakfast (a cup of milk and bread) daily. A new kitchen will be installed soon to provide food for the children from the schools in Cité Soleil and La Saline, the poorest districts in the area.
- More than 300 children in Lakay (street children center) are being cared for on a daily basis.
- More than 12,000 homeless earthquake survivors moved from “tent cities” in Port-au-Prince are receiving accommodations and psychological help in Thorland as they wait to be re-located.
- Youth groups continue with cultural, recreational, and spiritual activities (which have never been interrupted).
- In Gressier, Salesian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have promised to cover the financial costs of the rebuilding of the study center and part of the elementary schools.
- 22 shipping containers of relief supplies – including food, water, clothing, medical supplies and forklifts – have been shipped by Salesian Missions, as well as two school buses.
- To date, approximately $2.7M in funds have been spent by Salesian Missions on relief efforts for the Haitian people, along with additional in-kind donations.
How the earthquake impacted Salesian Missions in Haiti:
Since the devastating earthquake, Salesian Missions is desperately working to care for those who are homeless and suffering and is tremendously grateful to all who have given generously. A vast Salesian Missions compound in the Cité Soleil (which consisted of schools, trade shops, housing, orphanages, youth centers, feeding programs and administrative offices) was almost completely destroyed. 200 students and staff were killed in the rubble. Buildings destroyed include those at ENAM, the renowned National School of Arts & Trades, where a vast majority of the deaths took place.