In a grim start to the New Year in 2010, a 7.0 Mw earthquake struck Haiti, affecting almost three million people. This month, Compassion Australia remembers the thousands of people who lost their lives, including the 62 Compassion assisted children, a Haitian staff member and Compassion International contractor.
With the exact death toll still relatively unknown, the Haiti earthquake caused incredible destruction. Houses, schools and government buildings were completely destroyed. Water- and sanitation-related diseases ran rampant in the earthquake’s aftermath, with over 700,000 cases of cholera reported since 2010 and 8500 lives lost. Five years later, some affected families are still trying to rebuild their lives.
As news of the earthquake broke around the world, Compassion supporters responded. In Compassion’s largest disaster response to date, a total of US$30 million was raised through Compassion partner countries, including Compassion Australia, to rebuild Haiti.
Compassion Australia staff member Richard Miller was in the call centre in the days following the earthquake, providing updates about sponsored children to their sponsors.
“It was such an immense tragedy; it was really overwhelming,” says Richard. “The scale of the destruction meant it was very difficult to get information for sponsors. In a lot of cases all we could do was pray and hope that the children and their families were safe. It was devastating to find out that 62 children lost their lives and hundreds more were hurt or homeless.
“To see Compassion Haiti staff and local churches respond with such resilience and strength was incredible, and the generosity and support of Australian sponsors was absolutely humbling.”
Five years after the earthquake struck Haiti, the country continues to rebuild infrastructure and institutions, and works toward improving access to education, health and other social services. Of the 1.5 million displaced people, nearly 1.4 million have left the temporary camps and relocated. Reconstruction programs are repairing and building safe housing and upgrading neighbourhoods.
Today, Haiti remains the poorest country in the Americas and one of the poorest in the world with significant needs in basic services. According to the latest household survey, six million out of 10.4 million Haitians live under the national poverty line of $2 per day and over 2.5 million live under the national extreme poverty line of $1 per day .
With the support of dedicated sponsors, Compassion continues to provide support to Compassion assisted children who were affected by the earthquake.