Red Cross movement helping empower affected Haitians

Two years after Haiti’s worst earthquake in two centuries devastated the country, the Red Cross is still helping Haitians recover.

The earthquake hit the capital Port-au-Prince and nearby areas on 12 January 2010, killing more than 200,000 people and displacing around 1.5 million people.

The Red Cross movement immediately provided emergency healthcare, shelter, relief items and water and sanitation. And, over the following two years, have built shelters, improved mass sanitation, given financial support to households and put families back in touch.

In 2010, Cayman Islands Red Cross with the unwavering support of the Cayman Islands population, managed to raise more than CI$300,000 and US$78,188.40 for the International Haiti Appeal Fund, making it one of the most successful fundraising efforts in the history of the organization.

In January 2010, residents of the Cayman Islands pulled together in their effort to assist the most vulnerable in Haiti. CIRC volunteers took to the streets and businesses of Cayman with relentless determination. Hundreds of hours went into preparation, dissemination, education and collection of funds.

All sales made during the period of 18-30 January from the Red Cross Thrift Shop were donated to the appeal.

“Given the logistical difficulties and expense of sending clothes/items to Haiti, the CIRC decided to send the money that we raised in the shop to Haiti instead … this amounted to $6,000 in two weeks,” said Remy Imperial, the Thrift Shop manager.

In addition to the fundraising efforts, previous CIRC Disaster manager Hemant Balgobin also was deployed to Haiti as part of the International Federation’s Regional Intervention Team to help spearhead ongoing relief distribution.

“Whilst there is still work to be done in Haiti, we are very pleased to learn of the positive developments that have occurred, with over 250,000 households being assisted with emergency aid by the Red Cross Red Crescent movement since January 2010 and the recovery programmes (health, sanitation, shelter and livelihoods) all progressing well, it is great to know that the Cayman Islands Red Cross has played its’ part to make day to day life in Haiti more bearable,” said Danielle Coleman, disaster manager.

With all international appeals, the Red Cross focuses its efforts on raising funds to assist the affected community and whilst human instinct might be to send clothes and other nonperishable items, without the specific request of the receiving nation, we, the donors, are creating more problems for the people on the ground as they will have to find a way to receive, transport and store unnecessary goods. This takes manpower, equipment, time and depending on the location even funding and the items. A monetary donation in the same amount would not only be able to buy greater qualities of goods, but it would also help in stimulating the economy of the devastated country when purchased locally.

“There is a direct link between the work which the CIRC does on a daily basis and its ability to assist victims of disasters within the region. If the CIRC were not as strong as an organisation, or did not have the capacity to mobilize, educate, train and empower volunteers there is no way we would have been able to function the way we have for the last 50 years and the way we did for the Haiti response.

The strength of the Cayman Islands Red Cross relies greatly on our community and its generous support of time, skills and funds.

It is the on-going support of our community that allows the CIRC to provide services at home and across the region” said Jondo Obi, director of the Cayman Islands Red Cross.

Recovering Haiti

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (of which the Cayman Islands Red Cross are part of) are now concentrating on helping families to get back on their feet and regain their independence. Since January 2010, the Red Cross has given financial support to around 68,953 households.

Some money has been used for rent, repairs, and school fees. As a result, about 17,900 children have returned to school.

The Red Cross has also given around $6,000 cash loans or livelihoods grants to help people establish or grow businesses.

In the last two years, the Red Cross has:

Treated 25,090 people in 37 cholera treatment centres

Rebuilt and repaired 29 schools and nine hospitals

Reached 1,050,118 people through community-based health and first aid services

Provided 179,645 households with shelter materials

Given 19,068 households transitional or upgradable shelter

Completed nine small-scale community infrastructure projects to reduce threats from natural hazards, providing work for 3,081 people

Trained 3,214 community members in disaster management

Empowered 1.2 million people with information about cholera, malaria, HIV and preparing for disasters.

Relief and recovery after the Haiti earthquake is a massive operation – the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement’s largest ever in a single country. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is working with the Haitian Red Cross and members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and other government and aid agencies.

As well as the initial disaster, the movement has also tackled other humanitarian challenges in Haiti over the last two years, such as Hurricane Irene and the cholera outbreak.

In order to ensure the Cayman Islands Red Cross is prepared to assist its neighbours in the future, there are several trainings planned for disaster management.

For further information, please contact Danielle Coleman at [email protected] or by phone: 949-6785