Although Haiti’s South Department was not directly affected by the earthquake that struck the country in January 2010, between 100,000 to 120,000 people moved to the region and the size of an average family in the south doubled. Communities struggled with poverty before the population shift, and the disaster made life still more difficult for thousands of people.
Between October 2010 and October 2011, the British Red Cross supported displaced people and host families in the region. One of the ways we helped was by giving cash grants, livelihoods training and support to over 3,000 people. One of the people who benefited was mother-of-eight Anne Dite Lina Pierre Louis, who received two cash grants for £160 as well as training.
Anne says: “My brother and sister died in the earthquake, so their children came to live with us. For a time there were 15 of us all living under the same small roof, although now we are down to 11. This was very hard economically. I’m responsible for the household and all of these children so the burden fell on me. I had to do everything I could to take care of them.”
More money, fewer problems
Anne says: “We had so many problems and I couldn’t see how we were ever going to solve them. Then the Red Cross came along and gave us this money. It changed my life, because suddenly things became easier.
“With the first grant we used it to buy things that we needed immediately, like food and clothes, because it was a difficult moment for us. The rest we spent on buying three goats. With the second grant, we were able to invest in agriculture.”
Before receiving the second grant, Anne took part in an agricultural training. She says: “I have always worked in agriculture, but I did learn some new things in the training. For example, I learned how to start a vegetable plot, which is what I have done with the second grant. I have rented a field so that I can have more yield, as well as planting vegetables in my own garden.”
Training makes a lasting impact
The British Red Cross employs agricultural experts to support people like Anne with technical advice while they spend their grant on cultivating crops. She says: “This support from the Red Cross gives me a lot of encouragement and helps me to farm in a better way.
“The crops should allow me to make some profit by December. With this money, I would like to be able to fix up my house, and send the children to school. Seven of them are still in school, so it is a big expense. Little by little, we will find a way forward.”
“I know that the British Red Cross will leave soon, and so it is even more important that I invest my money well so that even after they are gone there will still be a way forward for my family. By planting crops on a larger scale than before I hope that we can be self sufficient from now onwards.”