News / Americas

    Earthquake-Displaced Haitians Strain Family Resources

    The Guerriere household has nearly doubled in size since taking in friends after the earthquake.
    The Guerriere household has nearly doubled in size since taking in friends after the earthquake.

    Multimedia

    Audio

    Irene Guerriere's quiet, tree-lined home in Gonaives is a 100 kilometers north of the epicenter of Haiti's January 12 earthquake and a world away from the destruction in Port-au-Prince. But even here in Gonaives, her family feels the effects of the quake every day.

    Following the disaster, an estimated 600,000 people fled the devastated capital and surrounding areas to seek safe haven with friends and family, such as Guerriere, in the countryside.

    But the extra mouths to feed are straining their hosts' resources to the limit and pushing more people into hunger.

    Helping the Haitian countryside deal with the massive influx of people displaced from the earthquake-affected areas is one of the urgent needs being addressed at a United Nations donors' conference in New York.

    All across Haiti, families that struggled to feed themselves before the earthquake now find themselves with hungry guests.
    All across Haiti, families that struggled to feed themselves before the earthquake now find themselves with hungry guests.

    The conference aims to raise $11.5 billion to rebuild the nation over the next 10 years.

    The search for loved ones

    When she first heard about the earthquake, Guerriere says, "My first reaction was, 'I have to get to Port-au-Prince because my daughter is there. I have to find out what happened to her.'"

    To her relief, she found her daughter, Ivena, safe in the company of close friends. But those friends had nowhere to go to escape the devastation. They asked to come with her back to Gonaives.


    "I couldn't tell them no because they were the ones who took care of my daughter in Port-au-Prince," she says.

    With that act of kindness, Guerriere's household swelled from 10 people to 18; nearly twice as many mouths to feed but no extra resources to feed them.

    Food, money running out

    Now, 11 weeks later, her food reserves are gone.

    She is forced to sell her livestock to pay for food. And with no money for seeds, and insects attacking her crops, the next harvest is at risk as well.

    "We don't have money to buy insecticide," she says. "The little money we have goes to take care of the kids."

    All across Haiti, families who struggled to feed themselves before the earthquake now find themselves with hungry guests.

    The Guerrieres have been forced to sell some of their livestock to pay for food.
    The Guerrieres have been forced to sell some of their livestock to pay for food.

    "The people who left Port-au-Prince brought nothing with them but their appetites," says Charles Edie, chief of agriculture for the government of Artibonite department, where Gonaives is located.

    An estimated 60,000 people arrived in Artibonite alone, increasing the population by about 20 percent in a matter of days. At first, food aid helped some families ease the burden. But Edie says that first stage is coming to an end.

    Wanted: jobs, schools, opportunities

    The next step, Edie says, "is to try to create work so that people who left Port-au-Prince have money so they can survive."

    Experts see the exodus from Port-au-Prince as a chance to ease the strains on the overcrowded capital. And the newly arrived workers actually could be a boon to rural Haiti. Putting them to work improving food production could help reduce the country's chronic hunger problems.

    But people were drawn to Port-au-Prince for a number of reasons besides jobs. For the Guerriere family, the capital was also where the opportunities for a better life began. Irene Guerriere sent her daughter Ivena to high school there because there were no good schools in Gonaives.

    "Port-au-Prince is where I would like to live," Ivena says, "because I want to become somebody. Port-au-Prince is where I can learn something, and I can't in Gonaives."

    Urgent needs

    Creating rural jobs is on everyone's to-do list, from the government to the United Nations to aid groups.

    Irene Guerriere
    Irene Guerriere

    But so far only a few small projects have begun. For families like the Guerrieres, the need is urgent and it's now.  

    Ivena Guerriere does her best to be positive.

    "Even if we eat only once, in the morning, we crack jokes all day. And we feel good."

    If jobs don't come through soon, the food may run out for many Haitians. And the humor won't be far behind.


    Steve Baragona

    Steve Baragona is an award-winning multimedia journalist covering science, environment and health.

    He spent eight years in molecular biology and infectious disease research before deciding that writing about science was more fun than doing it. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a master’s degree in journalism in 2002.

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    More Americas News

    Smugglers Use Uber-registered Drivers to Move Migrants to US Border

    Vehicles carrying 34 Central American migrants apprehended in June between northern Mexican states of Zacatecas and Coahuila, official says

    Cuban Hip Hop Group Orishas Reunite With Ode to Island

    Reuniting after a seven-year hiatus, emigre group also returning to their roots with new single celebrating their 'Cuba Isla Bella,' and say they hope to launch fourth studio album within a year

    Amid Cuts, Rio Police Ask for Handouts Ahead of Olympics

    Just weeks ahead of the Games, helicopters are grounded, patrol cars are parked, security forces so pressed for funds that some have to beg for donations of pens, cleaning supplies, even toilet paper

    UN: Drought-hit Central America Must Help Farmers Withstand Climate Change

    Aid groups and governments must boost resilience of communities and ‘not settle for simply mounting a humanitarian response every time an emergency situation occurs,’ official says

    Argentine Police Search Ex-president’s Properties

    Investigators seek documents as part of probe into possible corruption by Cristina Fernandez

    Verdict in Trial of Brazil's Rousseff Due after Olympics, O Globo Newspaper Reports

    First Olympic Games to be held in South America are due to open Aug. 5 amid political turmoil, concern about the Zika virus and Brazil's deepest recession since the 1930s