AVSI-USA received a grant of $160,000 from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s (CDP) Haiti Earthquake Recovery Fund to mitigate the harmful effects of the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti on August 14, leaving more than 650,000 people in need of emergency humanitarian assistance. Funds will be used to provide physical and psychosocial protection, promote child development, and reactivate child protection networks. As part of the project, AVSI will render fully functional 8 child-friendly spaces with programming serving at least 800 children and their families living in underserved urban slums in Les Cayes and Torbeck and remote coastal villages, including Roche a Bateau and Chardonnieres.
“Psychosocial support (PSS) is needed in any emergency response to address the high risk of abuse and trauma,” explains AVSI Country Representative in Haiti Fiammetta Cappellini. “Furthermore, PSS and recreational activities are an important entry point for the identification of children at risk of more severe problems. In such contexts, child-friendly spaces can allow minors to recover in safe, inclusive, and enriching places by participating in age-appropriate activities that mimic ordinary life and aid healing and normal development.”
AVSI, recognized officially by the Haitian government since 2005, began working in the country in 1999 with a 5-year program to support the newly created School of Agronomy at the Université Notre Dame d’Haiti (UNDH) in Les Cayes. Contacts established within the population and community-based organizations of the area surrounding Torbeck, gave rise to multiple projects in agriculture, rural development, and reforestation, water supply and management and road repair and maintenance.
Since then, AVSI has had a solid and sustained experience in South Department responding to emerging needs and protecting vulnerable communities in Les Cayes, Torbeck, and remote coastal communities, including in response to Hurricane Matthew with UNICEF-funded psychosocial support and child protection services for over 4,000 children.
“Children are especially vulnerable and at-risk after disasters. We need specially designed and targeted programs that meet their multiple needs,” said Alex Gray, director of international funds at CDP. “We are proud to support AVSI’s efforts to protect and help Haitian children to return to normalcy more quickly and to ensure their ongoing development. Their programming increases the children’s chances of recovery from the impacts and trauma from the earthquake.”