On anniversary of earthquake, the future is looking up for many Haitians
January 6, 2014
- Since the earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010, over 1.3 million people have left the camps and returned to safe neighborhoods.
- The World Bank and other development partners are supporting the Haitian government to step up its efforts in service delivery through a tuition waiver program and school meals to improve access to elementary school for poor children.
Bernadette Luc, a 30-year old mother from Haiti, is daring to dream once more. Since the nightmare earthquake of 2010, her hopes of owning a home, raising a family and opening a beauty shop had all but faded.
Four years on, Luc lives with her two children in a brand new house in Delmas 32, a neighborhood in the heart of Port-au-Prince.
She received a "relocation package". Today Bernadette is one of 60,000 people who moved out of their makeshift tents in Pétionville, where heavy rains turned rocky soil floors into mud and the heat became unbearable in the summer.
Since the earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010, over 1.3 million people have left the camps and returned to safe neighborhoods.
Today the narrow alleys of Delmas 32 look totally different from four years ago. The streets are busy, full of street merchants, with sidewalks and street lighting.
This is a significant improvement, but residents are still facing daily challenges.
Basic services are poor: lights go out for several hours every day; schooling and healthcare are insufficient and unaffordable.
Parents like Bernadette spend a lot of money to send their kids to private schools where teachers are poorly qualified. Prior to the 2010 earthquake nearly half a million children in Haiti did not attend school and today about 1 in 4 adults or youths cannot read or write. Disadvantaged families also struggle to cover their medical bills, with 40 percent of Haitians lacking access to healthcare.
Hope, however, is not in short supply in Haiti. Despite the difficulties, Bernadette believes a better future for her family is possible.
“I don’t want my children to grow up as I did. I want them to study very hard. When they grow up they will look to me and say ‘Thanks mom for helping me to go to school. You knew school was our future.’”
As the country continues to rebuild, the government has launched a key initiative for free and universal access to primary education. It has also started to put new social protection policies in place.
I don’t want my children to grow up as I did. I want them to study very hard. When they grow up they will look to me and say ‘Thanks mom for helping me to go to school. You knew school was our future.'
The World Bank and other development partners are supporting the Haitian government to step up its efforts in service delivery through a tuition waiver program and school meals to improve access to elementary school for poor children. An ambitious mother and child health project is also underway. When Bernadette’s son Auguste fell ill, she was able to access care at one of the primary health care clinics operated by the NGO J/P Haitian Relief Organization.
She has worked hard to rebuild her life. She dreams of owning a business so she can have a more stable future. “I would like to start a beauty shop, one where the neighborhood girls can come in and I can make them feel beautiful,” Luc said.
Opening a small business remains difficult in Haiti, but the country and the international community are working hard towards developing a more conducive business environment.
“Four years on, the story of Haiti is changing. Haiti is rebuilding. There is tangible progress, but more needs to be done to increase opportunities for all citizens,” said Hasan Tuluy, World Bank Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Tuluy pledged that “in the year ahead we will continue to work hand in hand with the Government and development partners to improve access to essential services for more people in Haiti.
For Bernadette and her neighbors, these changes will help bring the future nearer.