Context of our work:
Bright Tomorrows first became involved in Haiti when one of our trustees, Flor White, who had previously been an aid worker in the country, watched some news coverage of the earthquake early in January 2010. To her horror, she saw the street that she had once lived in totally devastated by the quake and she knew that she had to go back.
After a massive fundraising campaign that raised over £15,000, Flor returned to Haiti later that month, equipped with a mountain of medical supplies, antibiotics and two local nurses who were keen to use their skills in whatever way they could. We were also able to supply a generator to provide much needed electricity at a clinic that had been set up at the police headquarters opposite the Presidential Palace.
On their return we realised that it was essential for us to be able to provide some form of longer term support that would enable us to focus on many of the children who had lost their parents through the disaster. Through our local contacts we began to fund a breakfast club that had been set up in the clinic for many of the children from the nearby tent city. Here they could have a healthy meal before school and a safe place to go afterwards.
We also began funding school fees for 13 children who were in extremely challenging circumstances. One of the children who we have supported since that time is called Emanuel. (see article)
On a visit to see the children we had been supporting in February 2011, it came to our attention that there was a group of orphans who were going to lose their temporary accommodation and become homeless without intervention. We decided to take a team of UK volunteers to build some new accommodation for the children on a site that they had been given on the hills outside of Port Au Prince. The plan was two build two large dormitories and a small kitchen area and in October that year, our intrepid team set out on their mission.
The work was hot (45 degrees +) and hard, but we achieved our aim. Unfortunately we were to find that the two dormitories were not going to be big enough for the 84 children who would be living there, but we received a generous donation that enabled us to fund another large sleeping area, inside and outside showers, toilets and running water!
In August 2012 we went back to Haiti to see how things were progressing and were very pleased to see the project had developed so much. A school in Dorset had paid for some mattresses for the new bunk beds that had been built and the children were all set to move in!
Emanuel was 14 when the earthquake happened. He was not at home, but his mother unfortunately sustained severe stomach injuries when the house collapsed. She was taken to a hospital a long way out of Port Au Prince, where she later died. As Emanuel’s father had left a long time ago, he went to a slum area to be near his cousin. He was living alone in a tent that had been provided by Mission Rescue, the organisation with who we had been working. The area is dark and dangerous at night and Emanuel is often afraid. We have been able to provide him with a more substantial living area and he likes to come to the breakfast club before he goes to school. Emanuel has a dream to do something worthwhile with his life. He says:
“When I look at my city I cannot believe my eyes….I would like to become an architect, so that I can help rebuild my city”