3 ways we’re helping Haiti (and you can, too)

March 5, 2019
Written by Matthias Hope Naroff
Photo by Kieran McConville

UN: 2.5 million Haitians need humanitarian aid now. You can start by reaching 83,000 of the most vulnerable.

On April 6 in New York City, we rallied runners, walkers, and supporters for a 4-mile run in Central Park to raise awareness, hope, and $100K for 83,000 people in Cité Soleil, Haiti.

Spring Run for Haiti

Photo: Zach Hetrick

Cité Soleil

Known to some as the “Western hemisphere’s worst slum,” we know Cité Soleil as a resilient, proud, vibrant community in the heart of Haiti’s capital city, Port-au-Prince. Chronic poverty and a vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change have combined to create massive obstacles to health, education, and livelihoods. But relative peace has settled over a once-violent landscape. It’s a place where people are committed to changing their own lives for the better, and we’re committed to helping them.

1) Clearing polluted waterways to fight disease and destruction

Cité Soleil sits precariously at the very bottom of Port-au-Prince’s hilly terrain, on a floodplain bordering the seashore. The city’s garbage chokes the canals that are meant to channel floodwaters away from the community, leaving Cité Soleil vulnerable to disease and disaster.

We’ll use excavators and new garbage trucks to clear out that deadly waste from polluted waterways, and we’ll construct new ones: bridges, paths, and channels to prevent even minor rains from needlessly flooding homes, schools, and streets.

The outcome: cleaner water, less disease, and more stable lives.

A little boy runs through a garbage-filled street. When it rains, solid waste and trash run down the hills to Cité Soleil, causing flooding, hazardous conditions, and rampant disease.

A little boy runs through a garbage-filled street. When it rains, solid waste and trash run down the hills to Cité Soleil, causing flooding, hazardous conditions, and rampant disease.

2) Using life-skills, vocational, and emergency training to build secure futures

The focus on educational needs in Haiti has often justifiably centered on primary-age children. After all, the damage caused by the 2010 earthquake alone was on a generational scale: at least 4,000 schools were destroyed. And, in communities like Cité Soleil, poverty, poor health, and lack of infrastructure compound the problem.

We have a long history of working to improve primary education, but our efforts in Cité Soleil focus on adults. We are aiming to help build a generation of workers and entrepreneurs through cash grants as well as training in sewing, cooking, and use of heavy machinery. Those who are not able to read and write are receiving literacy training, which is literally transforming lives.

Resilience is not just about building secure livelihoods, however. We’ll also make sure adults are ready to protect their families and communities in the next emergency, and supply them with first aid kits, flashlights, whistles, and other necessary supplies.

Anasia Jedines says the literacy, numeracy, and business skills training she received has helped her improve her business. 31 years old, she is a single mother of four children, two of whom are in school. She hopes to be able to generate enough money to pay school fees for the other two. Photo by Kieran McConville

Anasia Jedines says the literacy, numeracy, and business skills training she received has helped her improve her business. 31 years old, she is a single mother of four children, two of whom are in school. She hopes to be able to generate enough money to pay school fees for the other two. Photo: Kieran McConville

3) Peace building

Concern has a two-decade tradition of cultivating peace in communities where violence once reigned.

“Concern changed my whole attitude to life. I went from a negative person to a positive person.”
Bien-Aimé Marconel

Cité Soleil had been among the most violent, but today, old neighborhood rivalries have been put aside. It requires hard work and the credibility that comes with a commitment to listening and empowering communities to change their own futures. It’s about fostering dialogue within and between communities, and gaining the support of local and national government. Most importantly, it’s about protecting the most vulnerable — women and children — by ensuring all parties have a stake in their health and safety.

Progress is evident, but we cannot forget the thousands who continue to live in unimaginable poverty.

While we directly reached 700,000 Haitian people over 9 years through emergency and recovery programs, hard work lies ahead to reverse one the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

The Spring Run

The Spring Run for Haiti, a 4-mile run/walk in Central Park on April 6, brought together 1,000+ supporters who raised $100,000 to reach 83,000 people in Cité Soleil. You’ll receive updates throughout the year to see your contribution in action.

Our history in Haiti

We’ve operated in Haiti for over 25 years, through a series of disasters and crises beginning with Hurricane Gordon in 1994. After the 2010 earthquake, we were on the ground responding immediately, working hand-in-hand with communities. Here are a few of the things we’ve been able to achieve in just the past 9 years:

  • Provided small cash grants of $75 or more to help 7,500 women restart their market businesses after the 2010 earthquake
  • Built hundreds of bathrooms, sanitation facilities, and 55,000 shelters
  • Created 8 outpatient therapeutic centers screening and treating thousands of sick and hungry children and their mothers
  • Established 5 learning centers and trained 80 teachers and 5 directors
  • Provided rental support to over 7,000 families for one year after the earthquake
  • Cash-for-work programs, including one that hired 250 families to rebuild more than 4,000 miles of road
  • Organized an association for 1,500 mango and avocado farmers, doubling production and increasing the price of their goods fivefold
  • Helped 7,600 men and women to protect local fisheries and improve income, sustainability, and food security
  • Hundreds of thousands of distributions, including water, food, shelter repair kits, hygiene kits, sanitary napkins, tarpaulins, jerry cans, mosquito nets, water purification tablets, tents, and more
  • Helped remove millions of tons of rubble and trash

Highlights in pictures

Spring Run For Haiti

Photo: Zach Hetrick

Spring Run for Haiti

Photo: Zach Hetrick

Pascal Louissant, a Project Officer with Concern Haiti, walks through Cité Soleil with members of a local foundation. These foundations generally comprise members of former armed groups, who have vowed to pursue peaceful methods. Photo: Kieran McConville

Pascal Louissant, a Project Officer with Concern Haiti, walks through Cité Soleil with members of a local foundation. These foundations generally comprise members of former armed groups, who have vowed to pursue peaceful methods. Photo: Kieran McConville

Christela Louis and her young children outside their home.

Christela Louis and her young children outside their home. When she gained a job at a bakery supported by Concern (see below), she was able to start saving money and grow her own business. Photo: Abbie Trayler-Smith

Christela Louis inside the bakery (supported by Concern) where she has worked since May.

Christela inside the bakery supported by Concern. Photo: Kristin Myers

Plastic and refuse clog the main waterways leading to the sea at Cité Soleil, Port au Prince.

Plastic and refuse clog the main waterways leading to the sea at Cité Soleil.

Clearance work on the waterways of Port au Prince, which have become badly clogged by plastic and other refuse.

Concern’s clearance work begins on the waterways of Port-au-Prince.

Concern constructing over 8,938 permanent houses and bathrooms

Built over 9,000 homes, hundreds of bathrooms and sanitation facilities, and 55,000 temporary shelters following the 2010 earthquake.

Construction of a retaining wall in Grand Ravine, designed to sustainably prevent flooding

Construction of retaining walls, designed to sustainably prevent flooding. Photo: Kristin Myers

Road rehabilitation on La Gonâve through a cash-for-work program.

Road rehabilitation through a cash-for-work program following Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Photo: Kristin Myers

Babies take a rest after being breastfed by their mothers at a Concern Worldwide nutrition clinic in Haiti.

Babies take a rest after being breastfed by their mothers at a Concern nutrition clinic in Haiti.

Merana Writes Her Name

Amazing things are happening in a small classroom on the edge of Cité Soleil.

International Women's Day in Haiti

Katty Jean, aged 15 — speaking at a meeting of the Zafe Fanm (Women's Issues) in the Concern-run Dahomey settlement camp in Port-au-Prince following the 2010 quake — calls for the rights of women to be respected.
A young child drinks from a Concern water spout.

A young child drinks from a Concern water spout. Photo: Kieran McConville

Children coming home from school in Port-au-Prince.

Children coming home from school in Port-au-Prince.

Children who play in the child friendly space in Place De La Paix.