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Friday, January 29th, 2010 - 2 comments

Haiti: Youth step it up for earthquake relief

Girl Surveys the Damage

Though the situation in Haiti is still critical, young people both in Haiti and outside are responding to the crisis by documenting the aftermath of the earthquake, blogging about it, and raising money and awareness.
As Haiti’s government raised the confirmed earthquake death toll to 150,000 earlier this week, warning that figure could double, there is particular concern for the well-being of the country’s most vulnerable — its young people.

Up to 3 million people are estimated to need aid following the January 12 earthquake. The situation is particularly critical for youth, says UNICEF, since nearly half of all Haitians are under 18 years old and almost 40 percent are under 14. Of the survivors, many thousands of children have been orphaned, lost or separated from their families, leaving them open to health risks, abuse and exploitation. However, young people aren’t passively watching the catastrophe unfold. Those within and outside of Haiti are contributing to efforts to raise aid and awareness.

In Jacmel, on Haiti’s southern coast, the film school Ciné Institute continues to provide Haitian youth with film education and technical skills training. Despite losing film equipment and having their school reduced to rubble, the students have been documenting the quake’s aftermath through photos, Twitter and eyewitness accounts. Here’s an account from student Marie Lucie Dubreuse:

This is the first time I am seeing the damages of an earthquake. I was at Ciné Institute when everything started rolling under our feet. Thank God I wasn’t alone on this unforgettable day. One of my classmates took my hand and ran to the streets with me. That’s when I understood what happened.

I ran home to get my daughter that was home at the time. This has traumatized everyone. We are all alive at Ciné Institute and we are doing our best to inform you of the situation in Jacmel.

The students are also posting videos. The blog Barking Robot, by Derek E. Baird, calls the captured stories and images “heartbreaking and hard to watch.” This video, for example, compiles the students’ earthquake coverage:

After the Earthquake: A Compilation of Ciné Institute Coverage from Ciné Institute on Vimeo.

The blog Go Green Toolshed discusses another initiative called Nouvelle Vie *Haiti,* an ongoing project of the International Association of Human Values. The project plans to mobilize 50 Haitian youth who will commit to serving their country for two years. During this time, they will develop skills in trauma relief, food and water security, as well as technology and construction. Meanwhile, Rick Perera, blogging for the humanitarian group CARE, shares stories of how the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Girl Guides have been helping in the city of Léogane. In this post, he talks about a 22-year-old named Joanie Estin:

Joanie was enjoying the early evening socializing with neighbors outside, as was the custom on the Rue de la Liberté in Léogane, when the unthinkable happened.

Her father was the only one inside the house when it collapsed. They never saw him again. The surviving family members – Joanie, her mother, and six siblings – have been living at a local school, the Écôle des Frères, ever since.

“I was so overwhelmed at first. My mother and I stood still in the middle of the road for about 15 minutes, until the earth calmed. Then we went home, and our house had been completely destroyed.”

Joanie coped the way she always has: by getting down to work. As soon as she could, she found her way back to Ste. Rose de Lima and, with some 50 boys and girls who had survived the earthquake, started rallying.

As many of the local Scouts and Girl Guides who could find each other in the aftermath – 94 in all – began volunteering their services to humanitarian groups, including CARE, that bring critical supplies to survivors in central Léogane.

Outside of Haiti, youth are also taking steps to help raise money and awareness. In Los Angeles, “Youth Run 4 Haiti” brought together around 3,000 people, youth organizations have posted tips on how to help, youth are being encouraged to send text messages to raise funds, and numerous multimedia initiatives are connecting young people with ongoing relief efforts. Another example: says that the youth wing of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela is showing solidarity:

The youth wing of Chavez’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) has set up a collection point in central Caracas, for donations of food, medicine, clothing and shoes to send to the people of Haiti.

Heryck Rangel from the PSUV youth said, “We young people want to deepen the internationalist character of the Bolivarian Revolution and highlight solidarity as a socialist value. The Venezuelans have to understand that Haiti is a country that has suffered much and now needs our urgent support.”

Even fashion is playing a role in helping Haitians. The Teens for Jeans drive in the U.S. and Canada is expanding its mission to help homeless Haitian teens. Once the jeans arrive in Haiti, the YMCA Haiti in Port-au-Prince will distribute them, as well as provide other services. The blog Fashion Fling elaborates:

“Want an easy way to help out the teen victims of the Haiti earthquake? Aéropostale and Do Something are teaming up to donate jeans, and you can join them! For every pair of gently worn jeans you donate to the Teens for Jeans program, Aéropostale will donate a brand new pair of jeans to Haiti victims (up to 100,000 pairs). This initiative is part of Do Something’s “Teens for Jeans” campaign that’s going on now, which raises awareness about the youth homelessness epidemic.”

Various writers and bloggers caution, though, that while short-term relief efforts are important, there must also be an eye towards long-term solutions and rebuilding efforts. Still, Steven Culbertson, blogging on The Huffington Post, says that youth should be acknowledged for their efforts so far:

Students in schools and universities immediately planned fundraisers in order to send money and supplies to charities providing aid to the earthquake victims. They became a wealth of knowledge, helping to spread the word about ways to provide support through social networking sites. They helped set a new record for money raised by mobile phones…

…We sometimes forget when planning our professional lives around engaging and supporting youth in service that, when the moment comes, children and youth are already poised for action. Thank you to all of the amazing youth out there, around the world, who continue to answer the call to serve.

Photo of Girl Surveys the Damage by newbeatphoto on Flickr, Creative Commons.

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The views expressed in this blog-post are solely those of the author.

Comments (2)

wini jackson
Friday 16th April, 2010, 5:33am

Hello: I am writing because I need to reach to those individuals in Los Angeles or where ever you
are throughout our world, who still want to help the children of Haiti. My name is Wini Jackson
I have been in service to children for more than 43 years. I have been asked to take the lead on
helping the children of Haiti by Fernando Pullum who is the Director of the Fernando Pullum
Performing Arts School here in Los Angeles at 5100 South Broadway, Los Angeles, 90007

We have been made aware of an orphanage that was totally destroyed in Petit Goave Haiti called: Association Enfants dans le Desert d' Haiti Orphanae. The director is Marie Denise. I have the license here with me in Los Angeles. The food resources are running out. Ms. Denise and the lady that helps her, Marie Jose Lesseille, are in need of help immediately. The orphanage is at: 60 Rue Republican in Petit Goave Haiti. I have verified this information with International Medical Corp Worldwide and
with Catholic Relief Services. There were actually four other cities destroyed from the earthquake of which Petit Goave was one. The ages of the orphaned children are 2 years of age through 12 years of age. In addition, Marie Denise is feeding children who are just wandering aimlessly looking for food. Petit Goave is 40 miles from Porte-au-Prince.

Since all of the resources that were raised were directed at Porte-au-Prince the Capitol of Haiti,
no one was paying attention to the other four cities that was destroyed until Ludger Hyacinthe took
his camcorder, went to his home in Petit Goave Haiti to help his mother and siblings and recorded
the devastation to the city and to the orphanage. He brought the film back and gave it to FOX KTTV
Television and they aired it in the 10 p.m. time news time slot. We saw the children and have
been working towards trying to get the much needed food to them since that time.

On April 30, 2010, Fernando Pullum, Director of the Fernando Pullum Performing Arts School will
hold a concert at 5100 South Broadway in Los Angeles, 90007. It will start at 6:30 p.m. in order
to raise funds to purchase the much needed food. The Fernando Pullum Performing Arts School
is a part of the Inner City Educational Foundation Charter Schools and is a non-profit within itself.
The amount of money needed has been determined by a list of food items that I sent to the Consul
General of the Dominican Republic, Mr. Celeste Jimenez, who is based here in Los Angeles. He
assigned a staff person to assist us by getting prices on the food based on humanitarian rates.
I have that list available and can forward it to you. The basic foods that will be purchased are:
wheat, rice, beans, flour, protein powder, sugar, cooking oil, powdered milk, cereal ; laundry
soap, hygiene products, mosquito nets, canned fruits and vegetables. It is our hope that we
will be able to get enough food to last six to eight months.

On May 2nd, the team is to leave Los Angeles for Santa Domingo, in the Dominican Republic
to shop for the food on May 3rd and May 4th. A truck will be rented and the food is to be trucked
into the orphanage. I have already alerted the U S Marines Southern Command, who stationed
near the orphanage that the truck will be coming through and also the U N Peace Keeping
Assistant to the Secretary General. I have asked that guards be provided to make sure that
the team and the food gets through. THIS IS A GOOD PLAN AND IT WILL WORK!

If there is anyone out there who can attend the concert, or who would like to see the list of food
and want to give towards the goal, or giving towards purchasing one or any part of the food items,
please let me know. I have called Italy to the office of Mr. Sheeran, Director of the World Food Program
at their Italy Headquarters, asking when food would make it to Petit Goave Haiti. Ms. Rina Manzo,
her assistant, could not give me an answer and infact, frankly stated that Ms. Sheeran did not
keep up with the day to day doings of her staff from the World Food Program who was on the
ground in Porte-au-Prince Haiti.

Again, no one ever mentioned, including the media, that there were four other cities detroyed. While all
of the resources went to Porte-au-Prince, children were starving as were adults in these other
four provinces or cities in Haiti.

Your help in getting the word out about the concert, and the purpose of raising funds to purchase the food; about the team leaving for the Dominican Republic to purchase the food on May 2nd, would
really help these children. We hope to fill that auditorium which holds 500 people. We will have
the list of food items available, so people can give what they can towards one or more items on the list.

I hope to hear that some of those who read this information, will respond to meet these children's needs. If you are anywhere near Los Angeles or in Los Angeles, please attend the concert; if you
want to see the list of food and the humanitarian prices that we have been able to get for the items
on the list, just let me know. I will be happy to e-mail that list of food and their prices to all interested people. If you want to give and cannot attend, please e-mail Cafe McMullen, assistant to Fernando Pullum at: TIME IS RUNNING AND THE CHILDREN ARE HUNGRY. IF THERE IS ANY WAY YOU CAN PARTICIPATE, CAN GIVE, PLEASE HELP THESE CHILDREN by purchasing
one or more of these food items on the list. Again, we will e-mail the list of food items to you with
the prices and you can aim your money at that food item. All donations are tax-deductible. If you
google the name " FERNANDO PULLUM" you will learn about his work with and for children here
in Los Angeles. He is an extraordinary educator and mentor to children.

I hope to hear from some of you soon. On behalf of the children at The Association Enfants dans le Desert d' Haiti Orphanage, which although destroyed, is still caring for those children who are abandoned and without parents, THANK YOU IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION OF THIS REQUEST FOR YOUR SUPPORT, YOUR HELP AND YOUR PARTICIPATION!


Wini Jackson

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Guest Editor

Juhie Bhatia

Public Health Editor, Global Voices Online, Global Voices Online


I am a South Asian-Canadian. I am passionate about global health issues, especially as they relate to women. I've covered health, science and women's issues for 10 years as a reporter and editor, and have studied journalism and nutrition. I'm currently the Public Health Editor of Global Voices Online and the Contributing Editor of Women's eNews.

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