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Six-Month Progress Report on MADRE's Response to the Haiti Earthquake

Posted on: Friday, July 9, 2010

Keywords: Economic Justice, Environmental Justice, Haiti, Latin America and Caribbean, Earthquake, Combating Violence Against Women, Human Rights Advocacy

Members of MADRE’s sister organization, KOFAVIV, distributing a MADRE delivery of humanitarian aid to women displaced by the earthquake. - c. Lisa Davis, MADRE

Facts at a Glance

Since the earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, MADRE has:
  • Supported emergency medical relief and delegations of hundreds of doctors, midwives and nurses
  • Established mobile clinics that treated more than 50,000 patients
  • Provided life-sustaining supplies to over 1000 women who lost their homes and their possessions
  • Campaigned at the UN Haiti Donors’ Conference for a reconstruction process that is Haitian-led and upholds women’s human rights
  • Improved security for displaced women and advocated for an effective international response to the rising rates of sexual violence
These efforts were facilitated in partnership with KOFAVIV, Zanmi Lasante, Circle of Health International, SOFA and the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti

Meeting Immediate Needs

MADRE has worked in Haiti since the early 1990s. When the earthquake struck, we immediately reached out to our sister organizations. Thanks to your generosity, we were able to provide them with life-saving support.

Humanitarian Relief

MADRE supported the formation of the International Feminist Solidarity Camp, a network of women’s rights activists and organizations in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and the broader Latin American and Caribbean region that came together in response to the earthquake.

MADRE worked with the International Feminist Solidarity Camp to provide crucial health services and supplies such as medicine, clothing and hygiene products, and to respond to the need for shelter through the distribution of 20 large tents. This support enabled the creation of a maternal/infant health clinic and shelters for elderly people displaced from a nursing home and children displaced from an orphanage.

 c.Maria Suarez, SOFAc.MADRE

Reproductive Health Care

When the earthquake struck, there were an estimated 63,000 pregnant women in Haiti. With extremely limited access to emergency obstetric care, including a severe shortage of skilled midwives and maternity clinics, many pregnant women were forced to deliver their babies in the street.

“One day, we received a telephone call. ‘We don’t know what to do,’ our contact, Martin, told us. ‘A young woman has just given birth on the sidewalk in the middle of town. She cannot move because she has a broken leg and hipbone from the earthquake. She has a cast over half her body.’ Our health teams sprung into action to help Crista and her newborn baby, Carlitos. We pulled together an emergency package of food, water, diapers, baby clothing, a lantern, a sleeping bag and plastic sheets to create a shelter until we could find a tent. It touched our hearts to see the new mother smile at us, even through her excruciating pain. Eventually, we were able to get Crista to a clinic where she underwent surgery on her hip. ‘It was incredible—with so much death around me, I brought life into this world,’ Crista told us, smiling. ‘I thought there was no one to help me, but then you came.’”

-Maria Suarez, Feminist International Radio Endeavor (FIRE), partner in the International Feminist Solidarity Camp

c.LDavis, MADREMADRE partnered with Circle of Health International (COHI), an organization that addresses maternal health in disaster settings, to support multiple delegations of Kreyòl-speaking midwives who provided critical reproductive health care to more than 350 women a day and trained Haitian midwives to deliver on-going care.

One such delegation included an epidemiologist, a family health care practitioner and a certified nurse-midwife. The team trained 15 earthquake survivors to perform a women’s health needs assessment and to provide evidence-based recommendations for women’s health services in Haiti. MADRE incorporated the results into our advocacy work at the United Nations to ensure that the health needs of women and infants are met in governments’ responses to the earthquake.

MADRE also continued to work with SOFA, a national Haitian women’s organization, to rebuild the capacity of Klinik Famn, a clinic that MADRE and SOFA co-founded in 1996, after the clinic was damaged by the earthquake. The clinic was one of the few places equipped to treat injuries and illnesses after the disaster.


Ensuring that Haitian Women Have a Voice in Rebuilding Haiti

c.RCrane, MADREMADRE helped launch an international initiative to ensure that Haitian women’s voices are heard in all phases of reconstruction in Haiti.
  • In advance of the March 31 Haiti Donors' Conference at United Nations headquarters, MADRE issued an open  letter calling on governments to enact a human rights-based response to the earthquake.
  • MADRE contributed to a Gender Shadow Report released in conjunction with the Haiti Donors’ Conference. The report offers donors, international agencies and other stakeholders policy guidelines to promote the rights of Haitian women
  • On March 31, MADRE organized a press conference to call for the effective participation of Haitian women in the rebuilding process. The press conference featured Edwidge Danticat, a Haitian writer and long-time friend of MADRE; Marie St. Cyr, a Haitian human rights advocate and MADRE Board Member; and representatives of UN agencies working in Haiti.

Public Education and Media

Read these original MADRE articles on the Haiti earthquake:

Since January, MADRE’s perspective on human rights and disaster has been featured by:

Ensuring the Safety of Women and Girls

In response to alarming rates of rape in the displacement camps, MADRE is partnering with KOFAVIV (the Commission of Women Victims for Victims), a Haitian organization created by and for rape survivors, to improve security in the camps and seek justice for survivors.

In May, MADRE traveled to Haiti as part of a delegation of human rights attorneys organized by the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti to collect testimonies from rape survivors in the camps. The delegation conducted more than a week of on-site interviews and research facilitated by KOFAVIV.

In early June, we submitted testimony to the United Nations Human Rights Council on the failure of the international community to respond to the threat of sexual violence in the camps.  MADRE brought Malya Villard-Appolon, a leader of KOFAVIV, to testify before the Council.   Malya, who identifies as a rape survivor and has lived in the camps since the earthquake destroyed her home in January, said: “We get no protection from the police, or the peacekeepers. We feel we do not have access to the rooms where decisions about our safety are made. We need the support and commitment of the international community.”

Partnering for Social Change

Together with KOFAVIV, we are working to:

  • Pursue an international justice process for rape survivors through the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
  • Enhance security through nighttime community watch groups and deliveries of cell phones, whistles and flashlights to women in the camps.
  • Deliver psycho-social support through a powerful model of peer support groups of rape survivors who empower one another to heal and rebuild their lives
  • Escort survivors to the hospital and the police station
  • Train displaced women on how to stay safe, manage stress, care for traumatized children and maintain family health and hygiene in the hazardous environment of the camps
  • Strengthen KOFAVIV’s capacity to rebuild the Haitian women’s movement in the wake of disaster
c.Flavia Cherry
Your compassion and commitment made this work possible. Thank you from MADRE and the women and families of Haiti!

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