Five Years After the Earthquake, Help and Hope for Mothers in Haiti
Editor’s note: Five years ago this week, a devastating earthquake struck Haiti. In Port-au-Prince, Action Against Hunger partnered with the local aid agencies to empower single mothers who struggled to provide for their families in the aftermath of the disaster. Today, we’re sharing their incredible stories of resilience.
Hélène’s school was destroyed by the earthquake, and many of her classmates were killed. After the earthquake, Hélène got a job, but had to stop working because she was pregnant. After the birth of her daughter Staïcha, Hélène stayed at home to care for her daughter while her sisters went to school and her mother, a widow, worked to support the family.
Hélène received a grant that allowed her to start a fruit and vegetable trade at the same market where her mother manages a stall. Hélène says that without the grant, she would never have been able to afford to send her daughter to school or resume her own studies.
Mania was pregnant and working at her stall at Salomon Market in Port-au-Prince when the earthquake struck. She lost all of her merchandise and fled the market in a panic. Sadly, the father of her child was killed during the disaster. The shock and stress of what she witnessed in the wake of the earthquake sent Mania into early labor.
Mania and her infant son went to live with a friend, and the young mother received a grant to sell fruits and vegetables. Today, she runs a successful banana trade and earns enough money to send her son to school. She’s also a member of a local trader’s cooperative that helps revitalize her local economy.
Ludnie was a student at the time of the earthquake, but left school when she was about to give birth. The combination of the earthquake and leaving school depleted her resources. When her cousin told her about our grant program, she quickly applied. With her grant, Ludnie opened a hair salon, which became so popular that she had to move to a bigger space. She says the grant helped her get back on her feet, giving her the financial freedom to start a business and pay for her son to go to school.
Kemlie and her siblings lost their family home in the earthquake and had to move to a crowded camp. Kemlie had to stop attending school. In the camp, Kemlie gave birth to her daughter Briyanah. The camp is the only home Briyanah, now three years old, has ever known. After receiving psychological care and a small business grant, Kemlie started a successful food trade and used the money she earned from it to return to school. She’s now married and expecting a second child. Kemlie’s family has also started rebuilding their home on their own plot of land.
Julie was living with her mother and two younger siblings when the earthquake hit. Though her family survived, they lost everything, and Julie had to stop attending school. They moved to a camp, where they still live today—and where Julie gave birth to her daughter, Tracy, who is now three years old. We provided Julie with psychological support to help her cope with the aftermath of the disaster. Julie also received a grant to start a small business selling clothes. With the money she earns from her business, she can now afford to go back to school—and pay for her daughter to go to school, too.
Murielle was on her way home from school when the earthquake struck. The building her family lived in collapsed, killing and wounding several other tenants, but fortunately her family survived. In the aftermath of the disaster, Murielle couldn’t find work and struggled to provide for her young daughter Louisa. Murielle received a cash grant, and used a portion of the grant to pay for her daughter’s education. She’s also resumed her own studies: today, she’s taking courses in computer technology and office management. Murielle’s mother helps take care of Louisa while Murielle attends classes. All photos by Gael Turine/VU