Life continues to get better two years after leaving the camp

تم النشر: 11 يناير 2013 9:00 CET

By Lorraine Taggart

Three years after the earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince in Haiti, attempts to assist those living in camps to find or build new homes and livelihoods continue.

Lucienne Bounba lived in a camp after the January 12, 2010 earthquake wreaked havoc on the city of Port-au-Prince and demolished thousands of homes. Caught in the street during the quake, Lucienne found herself with no home and was forced to find a new place to settle. Her search led her to the camp in Maïs Gate where many other families in the same predicament had begun to set up tents.

To survive, she relied on friends and family members who sometimes gave her money or food. Her children, struggling with problems of their own after the quake, could not take her in.

To support people leaving the camps, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is providing resettlement grants with a series of different options for families to choose from, such as receiving rental support or assistance to move to the provinces. In addition – and to ensure people could afford to pay their rent in future years – livelihoods support was offered to help people meet their immediate needs and to restore their income generating ability. Through this program, 5,000 people have received assistance to leave the camps, with 1,000 of those opting to go to the provinces.

In camp Maïs Gaté, where Lucienne and her family lived, the IFRC registered 2,000 families, and most chose to leave with the support of rental grants. The camp was one of many the IFRC is working in, and formed a large part of the Government’s 16/6 project which focused on the closure of six camps in Port-au-Prince and the renovation of sixteen neighbourhoods.

On the first anniversary of the earthquake, Lucienne moved out of camp Maïs Gate and into a new home. And as her living conditions improved, she also returned to selling housewares in front of her new home, an activity that she had been forced to abandon as a result of the earthquake.

“I lost all my merchandise during the earthquake,” she says. “Now I finally feel like I can live again.”

As the third anniversary approaches, Lucienne is doing well and her business has grown to the point where she is now able to pay the rent on her own.

Her business has continued to do well and she hopes that in time she will once again have as big a business as she had before the quake.

“I have saved my money because I knew that I would have to pay the rent by myself.  I am very grateful not to be in the camp anymore. Things aren’t as good as they used to be but at least they are getting better.”