On January 12, 2010, an earthquake devastated Haiti, killing more than 230,000 people and injuring more than 300,000. Handicap International deployed unprecedented resources to support the victims. Six years later, we continue to work with the Haitian people.
Following the 2010 earthquake, Handicap International mobilized more than 600 staff members to provide critical aid to survivors, particularly people with amputations and other disabling injuries. Thanks to our donors, we were able to launch a remarkable response:
- 90,200 Haitians received basic care and physical rehabilitation
- 1,400 people received prosthetic limbs
- 6,000 mobility devices such as wheelchairs, crutches, and walkers distributed
- 25,000 people received mental health support
- 1,000 shelters constructed
- 20,000 tons of aid delivered
Six years after the earthquake, Handicap International continues to implement new projects and provide sustained support to the people of Haiti.
On the day of the earthquake, there were only 13 certified physical therapists in Haiti—many of whom lived abroad. Confronted with a staggering lack of local rehabilitation skills in the immediate wake of the earthquake, Handicap International worked rapidly to launch the country’s first training program for rehabilitation technicians. In August 2015, 72 students graduated, including two orthopedic technicians and 50 rehabilitation technicians. Handicap International is also upgrading the skills of professionals who are already practicing but who have not undergone any formal training, as well as improving access to high-quality services and providing support to health facilities.
With an eye to the future, Handicap International raised awareness among local authorities and project partners to ensure that the most vulnerable people are included in their natural disaster preparedness and response plans. In addition, three buildings acting as temporary shelters in the event of a disaster (with a capacity for 900 people) have been made accessible for people with disabilities.
Due to the widespread destruction of homes caused by the earthquake, many Haitians have been living in camps since 2010. As part of a project designed to relocate these people to new areas, Handicap International is ensuring that new housing is accessible to people with disabilities. We are working to help make these displaced persons’ integration into their new environment more permanent.
In addition to its ongoing rehabilitation and disaster risk reduction work, Handicap International runs a number of programs targeting at-risk children and people with disabilities. Sadly, violence against children and child abandonment are serious problems in Haiti. Children with disabilities among the most vulnerable. Handicap International is assisting the Institute for Social Well-being and Research (IBESR) to combat all forms of abuse, exploitation, and abandonment of children with disabilities. The organization also partners with the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) network in a pilot project promoting access to sexual and reproductive health services and HIV/AIDS prevention services for children with disabilities.
In Port-au-Prince, Handicap International helps people with disabilities find employment so that they can earn a living and contribute to their families’ incomes. We are building the capacities of three vocational training centers to include people with disabilities and assist them in developing career plans and finding jobs.
The organization is raising awareness about road safety among the populations in Port-au-Prince and increasing access to public transportation for people with disabilities. In particular, we have promoted the creation of accessible buses and bus stops.