Back to school, back to the future

Sponsorship helps children regain their dreams following Haiti’s disaster

For children like 10-year-old Angela, whose family is struggling to overcome poverty in Haiti, access to education has always been a challenge — even before life was turned upside-down by the January 2010 quake.

With more than half the population struggling to survive on less than $1.25 a day, many parents can barely afford food, let alone pay necessary school fees. As a result, one in two primary school-age children do not attend classes.

Without the help of World Vision, Angela would be among them. But child sponsorship has enabled Angela and other children from her community in the La Gonave area to pursue their education, even following January’s quake. Though most World Vision child sponsorship communities were outside the worst devastation, Angela’s family was hit especially hard. In the wake of this disaster, World Vision has given families like Angela’s the support needed to recover from the earthquake and equipped them to begin building new lives.

The day the earthquake struck is one Angela will never forget. “I was in the front of the house playing,” she recalls. “The ground started shaking. I was scared, but my father told me to stay with my brothers and sisters.”

Thankfully, Angela’s family survived — but their house did not. For two weeks after the disaster, her family lived amid the rubble of their home, attempting to shelter themselves with dried branches. “It’s what many people did,” explains Angela’s father, Noisis.

World Vision had already been active in the La Gonave area for 10 years, working to promote community development by increasing access to education and healthcare and providing families with income-generating opportunities.

Following the earthquake, World Vision rapid response teams assessed the situation in La Gonave and offered emergency assistance to affected families. Lacking the money or materials to rebuild their home, Angela’s family was provided with a transitional shelter that gave them a safe, dry place to live as the rainy season approached.

But survival was still a challenge. “Sometimes, life is unkind,” says Angela’s mother, Betty. Barely able to make ends meet before the quake, the family found it nearly impossible in the aftermath. “It’s difficult to work and make money here,” adds Betty.

That’s why World Vision started a cash-for-work program in La Gonave. This program gave Noisis the chance to earn income for his family by helping to repair local roads. Each month, Angela’s family also receives wheat, corn, oil, and flour to help keep them nourished and healthy.

In addition to meeting immediate needs for food and shelter, World Vision is helping quake-affected families in sponsorship communities, like La Gonave, to take active, effective steps for their future. For children like Angela, returning to school is a critical step in this process.

Engrossed in her homework, it’s clear that Angela is grateful to be back in school. Thanks to the involvement of World Vision and the support of her sponsor, this young girl has a reason to believe that she can overcome her circumstances and achieve her dreams. Inspired by her experience in a World Vision health clinic, Angela declares, “I want to be a nurse and look after small babies.”

Though she lost her home in the 2010 earthquake, sponsorship has helped 10-year-old Angela and her family begin to build a new life.

Angela and her family outside their new transitional shelter provided by World Vision. World Vision continues to support Angela’s family by providing food and income-generating opportunities.