In times of crisis, aid organizations often focus exclusively on providing communities with tools for survival. Of course, in the immediate aftermath of disaster, this is precisely what people need most. However, maintaining this narrow focus in the months and years after disaster neglects broader needs.

For MADRE, the women we work with are not “disaster victims,” “target populations,” or “aid recipients.” They are our sisters. So when they face disaster, we aim to ensure that they and their families not only survive, but that they recover and flourish. And when we talk to our sisters about what they need in the wake of disaster, they say what you would expect: food, water, shelter, healthcare. But they also say, “we need to re-create the feeling of normal life in the community. We need the children to laugh again.”

That’s why when I traveled to Haiti last week, I brought with me small inflatable pools and beach balls for our sister organization KOFAVIV.

The women of KOFAVIV are running a summer camp for children whose home s were destroyed in the 2010 earthquake. Many have been orphaned and raped. The incredible outpouring of support from MADRE members has helped ensure these kids’ survival. Now, we’re giving them what they need to move beyond survival and recover their childhoods: a chance to laugh, play and relax.

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