Wednesday, March 24, 2010

HAITI - Children in orphanages still a serious situation due to lack of food and schooling

Heart of an Orphan

Image by Michael Mistretta via Flickr

Port-au-Prince (Agenzia Fides) - The little orphanage of San Marie is located in Port-au-Prince. The area, once home to 2,000 residents, now accommodates some 6,000 people who lost their homes in the January earthquake.
Only 500 orphans have been registered with the different local and international agencies in Haiti since the quake, not including the ones living in orphanages before the disaster. According to local caretakers, most children who had one living relative were taken in by them. The children at San Marie, however, have no one. They live in tents donated by French volunteers, assisted by a team of local volunteers.
Food is distributed daily by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) kitchen in the camp, but it is not enough to fill their hunger. Another 900 meals are distributed to school children on the site as part of a WFP food distribution scheme. It plans to provide hot meals to some 170,000 school children nationwide. State schools are closed until 1 April, but local NGOs operate makeshift schools in some areas. In the interim more than one million children remain without access to classes.
The children are stressed, traumatized, psychologically in need. Volunteers from different countries visit the orphanage compound once or twice a week and are an instant attraction for the children. With no toys or playground, every visitor is a welcome distraction. Nineteen volunteer caretakers work in 12-hour shifts, every day of the week, but are unable to address the children's psychological needs, and local Haitian psychologists are a rarity. The International Organization for Migration has opened a psycho-social cluster for NGOs dealing with post-traumatic stress but it is difficult to access 1.3 million people living in 400 temporary sites. The children will have to wait - for assistance, for clothes, for schools to re-open. (AP)
(Agenzia Fides 23/3/2010)

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