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.
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.
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.
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