Haiti stage 2: CWS helping expand rural food co-ops, reunite child domestic workers with their families

Initial Haitian government plans to relocate huge numbers of families to cities outside Port-au-Prince are being thwarted by land ownership issues and costs, adding to the frustrations of those made homeless by the quake. But humanitarian agency Church World Service is dealing within those realities and says it now is expanding its work to help families recover where they are and to support host communities stretched to accommodate migrating survivors.

Woman selling charcoal
A woman sells charcoal in a camp of families made homeless by the earthquake in Haiti, in January.
Photo: Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance

Agency, partners 'Helping people where they are' in midst of country's frustrations

SANTO DOMINGO, DR/Port-au-Prince, HAITI -- Initial Haitian government plans to relocate huge numbers of families to cities outside Port-au-Prince are being thwarted by land ownership issues and costs, adding to the frustrations of those made homeless by the quake. But humanitarian agency Church World Service is dealing within those realities and says it now is expanding its work to help families recover where they are and to support host communities stretched to accommodate migrating survivors.

Those programs will range from repair of houses damaged by the quake and expansion of host homes where survivors are permanently relocating, to building food security for all by expanding already-successful farm cooperatives.

The effort marks transition of the international NGO's focus on emergency response to sustainable recovery and rebuilding in quake-devastated Haiti.

"We'll still be providing emergency aid as needed, but we're now working with partners in Haiti to respond to some very specific needs and for the longer-term development programs that are necessary to truly enable Haiti to build back better," said CWS development and humanitarian assistance director Donna Derr.

With contributions already received and donations the agency hopes to raise in an expanded U.S. fundraising appeal, CWS says its specific rehabilitation focus will include:

  • Permanent house repair for homes that can be made habitable and safe with minor repairs
  • Expansion of host housing in locations outside quake-affected areas
  • Increasing food security and food availability for the displaced and their host communities
  • Basic services and transitional support for displaced people now living in spontaneous
    encampments
  • Rebuilding and expanding local capacity to provide services and protection for vulnerable children and youth in Port-au-Prince
  • Individual small grants for quick livelihood recovery
  • Direct services for 1,200 people with disabilities and their families in metropolitan Port-au-Prince
  • Ongoing provision of material support particularly to people still living in tent camps
  • Continued management and operation of a Santo Domingo - Port-au-Prince humanitarian corridor

Rural agri co-ops: stretched to help feed migrating survivors

In Haiti's Artibonite and North West regions, CWS's Derr says, "There are 13 rural cooperatives that are supported by Church World Service and our Haitian partner SKDE (Christian Center for Integrated Development).  Year after year and disaster after disaster in Haiti, these co-ops have continued to grow and help their communities enjoy food security. Now they face the challenge of providing enough food for many of the more than 200,000 people who fled Port-au-Prince."

Derr says CWS support will include effective and transparent management of the co-ops' revolving funds and fair credit opportunities for women entrepreneurs and farmers to expand their crop production.

"We'll also be assisting co-ops in strengthening the 'Passing on the Gift' schemes that most of them carry on," she said. "It's an empowering, self-perpetuating way to build income and food sources, in which members who receive gift of animals such as chickens or goats share their offspring with other community members."

In Fonds Parisien and Ganthier, near the border with the Dominican Republic, Church World Service and partners Servicio Social de Iglesias Dominicanas and Christian Aid are already serving two spontaneous camps of displaced people—survivors who had no assistance until CWS's partner agencies arrived. "Here, we'll provide food, water, and temporary shelter materials and assist residents in leadership formation and community organizing," said Derr.

Child domestic workers, former gang members, teen mothers to benefit

CWS and Haitian partners have a longstanding commitment to serving vulnerable children. At the outset of its Haiti quake response, Church World Service determined to expand an existing program focusing on the ongoing needs of the country's most vulnerable children, including those who work as domestic servants.

The agency's long-term assistance will continue that work in Port-au-Prince, along with support for former gang members and teenage mothers in Lasaline and Carrefour Feuilles. Part of that work will also include a pilot family reintegration project to help reunited restavek children and their families in rural areas.

During the quake, local partner FOPJ (Ecumenical Foundation for Peace and Justice) was left homeless like many of the children it serves, when that agency's center was severely damaged. FOPJ and CWS assistance to the youth and children is continuing nonetheless, with education, vocational training, life skills and emotional support services. CWS plans to assist FOPJ with the purchase a new building in which to house its community center for children.

With no functioning port now in Haiti, and as the country looks at the task of building and rebuilding much of its infrastructure, CWS and its partners in the ACT Alliance also "intend to make sure that the humanitarian corridor from the Dominican Republic to Haiti remains a lifeline," said Derr.  Those agencies and other NGOs have relied on sending relief and materials through the DR.

How to help

Contributions may be made online or by phoning 800-297-1516 or by mailing to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515 (please indicate Haiti Earthquake). 

ACT Alliance Church World Service is member of the ACT Alliance, an international coalition of churches and related organizations responding to emergencies and collaborating in development work.

Media Contact:
Lesley Crosson, 212-870-2676, lcrosson@churchworldservice.org
Jan Dragin, 781-925-1526, jdragin@gis.net


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