Friday, 29 October 2010
My journey to the SOS Children’s Village Santo took me through Port-au-Prince, a city devastated by January’s earthquake. You could see it in the deep potholes we carefully avoided, and in the half constructed buildings that lined the road; but above all, you could tell by the blue tented camps we passed, homes to those who lost everything, and by the white UN emblazoned vehicles that plough to and from the airport. It reminded me of some parts of east Africa – Mogadishu without the weapons, or Gulu in northern Uganda, where, since the departure of the LRA, NGOs proliferate. But both those catastrophes, though horrific, were man-made. In Haiti the people had no warning as their poorly constructed buildings collapsed on top of them.
Today the village still has over 600 children, most of them living in temporary shelters built specially for them. These little white houses, which accommodate five children and an ‘SOS auntie’ look inviting, compared to much of what I saw on my journey through Port au Prince. I was surprised, considering they are not big, how tidy and clean they are. Of course the bathroom and kitchen blocks are separate which is not so easy in the rainy season. But when I consider the alternative, children living in camps, or on the streets, I see that these kids are more fortunate, if any child who has lost its parents in an earthquake can be called that. In disaster areas like Haiti ‘fortunate’ is an interesting word.