• Print this page

The Salvos distributed millions of meals to victims of the Haiti earthquake

Child care: The Salvos still teach boys and girls in their child's home

Even before the 7.0-magnitude earthquake of January 12, the Caribbean-nation Haiti was not a particularly thriving country

With a struggling economy, 70% unemployment rate, few public services, a corruption-ridden government and  most shocking of all - a 15% infant mortality rate, Haiti was struggling with many of the real-world difficulties of a third-world country.  

It is one thing when relatively affluent nations like Australia or the U.S. are hit with an earthquake or tsunami. Yet, when disaster strikes already-struggling third-world economies like Haiti, the victim's difficulties are compounded by the nation's poor economy.

In just 37 seconds, the country's previous health problems seemed almost minor. The country was confronted with a homeless population of 1.5 million, an estimated a death toll of 220,000, unimaginable suffering for 300,000 others and minimal resources for the government to respond. In the weeks that followed, 200,000 people needed amputations, creating a new generation of disable people when some of the healthiest struggle to survive. 

Since 1950, The Salvation Army has been a presence in Haiti, which is home to the largest amount of army corps in the Western Hemisphere. Immediately following the earthquake, the Salvos provided medical care to more than 26,000 victims, distributed 7 million meals and 1.5 million gallons of purified water, cooking oil, thousands of tents, cots, tarpaulins and hygiene and cleaning kits.

Lieut-Colonel Bailey is the International Haiti Earthquake Response Director. He comments that though the impact of the recovery process has been 'encouraging' and 'significant,' many of the country's ongoing problems has been troubling, especially since that The Salvation Army's buildings have been destroyed.

'The impact of the Army's recovery and development phase has been significant and encouraging. However, the aftermath of Hurricane Tomas, the continued fight against the country's first cholera outbreak in more than 50 years and the aftermath from the recent presidential election process have slowed the rebuilding progress and left many people even more vulnerable,' Lieut-Colonel Bailey said.

Other recovery initiatives include community development-based projects - which support internally displaced persons, children and adolescents in the capital - and financial support to the children dispplaced after the destruction of the Army's children home. The Salvation Army has also built more than 600 temporary shelters in Jacmel - 40 miles from the capital - helping families to protect their children.

Lieut-Colonel Bailey said that problems in Haiti are ongoing, and that The Army needs sustained financial support to help those displaced by the disaster.

'Long after the cameras have gone home and Haiti's plight has disappeared from the news, the rebuilding will continue, one block of hope upon another, ' Lieut-Colonel Bailey said.

'The Salvation Army will be there as well, sharing in that hope as we uphold our commitment to 'build back better' in the months and years to come.'