Birthday Project 2010: In Their Own Words--Haiti's Children Speak

Give in Johnny's honor and help Haiti's children recover from January's earthquake.
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Theresa
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Birthday Project 2010: In Their Own Words--Haiti's Children Speak

Unread postby Theresa » Thu Jun 03, 2010 5:54 pm

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Four months on from the earthquake these children are now living in tents in a temporary camp in Leogane, Haiti. All of them lost friends and family in the disaster. But every day they can forget some of their worries and play with friends at our “espas timoun” (child-friendly space). Watch the films they’ve made of their lives…

Sarah Jacobs, Head of News, Save the Children

I run the news team at Save the Children. We’re responsible for getting news journalists to report on injustices and issues children across the world are facing – issues that reporters might never uncover without crucial information and tip-offs from Save the Children.

When the earthquake first hit Haiti, our press office team worked 24 hours a day to get as much coverage of the disaster – focusing on children – out in the media as we could. Our emergency response team were fantastic, finding time to do interviews from camps where they were helping to set up mobile health clinics, create safe places for children and distribute shelter supplies.

There was huge global interest – journalists from across the world wanted to know first-hand how the country was coping with such a devastating crisis.

But then it went quiet. Journalists went home, TV cameras turned elsewhere. They left tens of thousands of children and their parents trying to cope with the grief of having lost friends, family and their homes, and trying to get back to some sort of normal life.

We wanted the world to hear about what was happening for children in Haiti throughout the year – not just when journalists were there. And we wanted to understand what children were going through from their own perspective – as they wanted us to hear it.

The children we are working with in Haiti are amazing. They have been brave enough to speak openly and honestly about what they have experienced and how they are feeling. They are great story-tellers – during our workshops they both gave me the giggles and made me cry – and their enthusiasm and sense of fun was brilliant to be around.

Before we left, Nenel told us that in making the first film about his life, he was able to talk about the deaths of his siblings for the first time and that he needed to ‘get it out of his head’. That, for me, has already made this project worthwhile.



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Re: Birthday Project 2010: In Their Own Words--Haiti's Children Speak

Unread postby Theresa » Thu Jun 03, 2010 6:10 pm

Nenal's Story

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evX2Opue3p8
[youtube]evX2Opue3p8[/youtube]


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Nenal, 17 years old

When the earthquake started I just ran to where there were no buildings or concrete.

Going back to the house I found my mother. She was covered in dust. I asked her what had happened and where my sisters and brothers were. She said they were in the house. I saw the house was completely collapsed and started shouting their names. But nobody answered.

I thought I was going to faint. I had no power in my legs. Mum and I left to go to the football stadium where there was clear space. While we were there the ground kept shaking and shaking.

We spent the night in the stadium. Each time the shaking was stronger and we thought everybody would be electrocuted. I said I couldn’t stay, so we left.

The next day we went back to the house and men came with tools to smash away the rubble. They found the bodies of my brother and sisters. I wasn’t allowed to be there when they pulled out the bodies.

After that my mother refused to stay in the same area. Now I live in a tent with my uncle and 13 other people. It’s wet when it rains and too hot when the sun’s out.

When I used to come back to the house, my family used to welcome me and shout “Nenel, Nenel!”. But now there’s nobody to call my name when I go home.

My oldest sister Vanessa was 21. She had finished her studies and liked annoying me. She also liked it when I danced for her. She liked watching me play football and always shouted for my team. If I had problems, she always came to defend me.

My second sister was 15 years old. We used to go to school every day together — I always waited for her. She liked watching me dance too. When I slept she used to come and wake me up to annoy me.

My little brother Martini was seven. When I had money I always bought him sweets and games. If I went to play he’d always come with me. We sometimes fought together and he’d always beat me. Now there’s nobody to give presents to if I buy them.

One of the hardest things for me is that my mum cries all the time. I know it will never be the same for her.

I felt very bad not going to school. I felt like my future was threatened. It made me feel useless. And it was a place where I used to find lots of happiness.

It has taken four months for my school to reopen. I’m going back to school this week and it makes me feel like a new person — a much bigger person. When I’m with children my own age, like me, I feel like I’m understood and we can talk about the future.

Maths is my favourite subject. I want to be an engineer working on public projects. After the earthquake I decided I wanted to learn to make houses that wouldn’t collapse and so people wouldn’t die.

They are starting to build a wooden house near to my old house [where we will live]. It will feel better not to live in a tent, but it will never be the same.




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Re: Birthday Project 2010: In Their Own Words--Haiti's Children Speak

Unread postby Theresa » Fri Jun 04, 2010 12:34 pm

Olwine's Story

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Olwine, 13 years old

Before the earthquake I had two best friends, Britney and Beatrice. But Britney died. She was 10 years old. We’d go to school together every day. Now she’s dead. She was still in the school building when it collapsed and she was crushed. Now when I speak to Beatrice we cry. Sometimes I call her Britney by accident.

I want to be a paediatric nurse. I love reading and science at school. I was at home studying when the earthquake happened. I managed to get out of the house. My older sister Vanessa’s baby had been in the house and she thought her baby was dead. But my mother had rescued her and they were both safe.

We spent the night on some open grass and built a tent where we stayed for a month and a half. It was very uncomfortable. But then the person who owned the land demanded it back. Finally someone else said we could stay on their land.

I really miss sleeping in my own bed. Now I share a bed with four others — my younger cousins — and they wet the bed. I also live in the tent with my mum, two sisters and one brother.

After the earthquake I cried a lot. I’m still scared. I don’t like to be alone. Sometimes I still cry but I don’t know why.

I love Save the Children’s ‘espace timoun’. It’s the only good thing left for me. I used to sit down with my friends and talk, but now my friend Beatrice lives too far away so I can’t see her often. No children live near me, but there are lots here. It makes me feel good.




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Re: Birthday Project 2010: In Their Own Words--Haiti's Children Speak

Unread postby Theresa » Sat Jun 05, 2010 6:01 pm

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Child-friendly Spaces (Espas Timoun)

Stephanie Dorce
Staff member at the child-friendly space

I’ve worked for Save the Children for two months. Before the earthquake I was a teacher in a primary school in Port au Prince, working with privileged children. In Leogane, I’m able to help children who can’t go to school, have lost family or don’t have enough money to live well.

The younger children, aged from three to nine, come in the morning. And the older children come in the afternoon. It’s very important that children go back to school if they are able to, so children who are at school come in the afternoon.

At the start of every session we have a meeting so the children can talk about what they’ve seen, what they’ve heard, just share the day’s news. We talk to them about what they saw – children naked in the streets, without proper homes to live in. We want to show the children that this wasn’t normal for Haiti, that it was an outside event that changed the country and that it wasn’t always going to be like this.

We run lots of creative and imaginative activities. We teach them new things and give them training — to show the children that life can change and get better. Sessions are made up of lots of dance and sport, and we play loads of games, for example traditional Haitian games, skipping and hopscotch.

The ‘espas timoun’ helps keep children safe and busy. It means they’re not wandering the streets and in the rubble on their own. But it also helps the parents, so they are free to try and find work, buy food or look after the house.

The children are still scared after the earthquake. After it happened, they were very depressed and some were bad tempered. When they first came to the ‘espas timoun,’ they didn’t want us to touch them, they didn’t want to go out or eat and many stayed in the corner and didn’t want to play. Within two weeks here they had completely changed. They were laughing and playing together.



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Re: Birthday Project 2010: In Their Own Words--Haiti's Children Speak

Unread postby Theresa » Sun Jun 06, 2010 10:44 am

Sophia's Story

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Sophia, 16 years old

During the earthquake lots of rubble fell on me. My cousin had died the day before and we were at his house. I thought the earthquake was his spirit coming out and making everything shake. People were running everywhere and I ran too. But I tripped and fell and stones kept falling down on me. I tried to get up but I couldn’t feel my legs.

There was another girl who had lots of rubble on her. She was calling “save me, save me” but I don’t know what happened to her.

Afterwards I didn’t know where my family was and felt very bad and scared. There was dust and rubble everywhere. Houses were falling down and everything was black. You could hear the sound of houses cracking.

In the end my cousin found me and took me in. I couldn’t cope because I was injured everywhere. I found someone and lay down in their lap. I cried all night. Then at 4am my father and older sister arrived. For me, it was as though God had come to earth — I was so happy.

I couldn’t walk so they carried me home and my mum was crying because she thought I had died. When I saw our house I realised life would always be different. I didn’t stop crying, asking where would we go, what would we do? But luckily my mum found materials that we could build a tent with.

Then I heard that two of my friends were dead.

I live in a tent in the courtyard of my house — where it used to be before the earthquake. I live with my mum and dad, my three sisters — Mirelene, 26, Yolande, 20, Mijad,15, and my brother Jacques Junior who’s 11. I’m very lucky to live with my parents — there are lots of other children who have lost their mum and dad.

Before the earthquake, we had a very big house with 13 rooms. Before, we had lots of food. Now we don’t have enough. Before, I had lots of clothes and now we don’t have very many. It’s like a bad dream. I’m afraid especially because we have no proper door in the tent, so I don’t feel safe. Lots of children don’t feel safe — there’s no security here.

Some things are good. Save the Children’s ‘espace timoun’ did a lot for me. I was very sad before I went there and didn’t play with any other children. Now I can go and do activities and play with friends.

My school is still working well. No teachers were killed and we all like to work. When I grow up I want to be a nurse to stop children getting infections.




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Re: Birthday Project 2010: In Their Own Words--Haiti's Children Speak

Unread postby Theresa » Mon Jun 07, 2010 1:00 pm

Jean's Story

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vxuu8iWnzKU
[youtube]Vxuu8iWnzKU[/youtube]


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Jean, 11 years old

I was in front of my house when the earthquake started to shake. I ran to hold onto a wall - it was really moving. My dad made me let go. Afterwards I called my mum and was crying. She came out [of the house] with her face all covered in dust.

I was there with another friend and we were just crying and crying — we thought it was the end of the world.

After the earthquake, the sky was all red and there were big cracks in the ground. I had to sleep in the street and there was lots of shaking [tremors]. I saw a woman with her intestines falling out. I saw horrible things.

We were living in the football stadium. But there was lots of shaking and every time it did I thought the ground was going to turn upside down.

My cousin died — I always cry when I think of her. She was called Sonata and was bigger than me. She was a very good person and always put me first. I used to play with my friend Elodi, but he also died in the earthquake — I miss him a lot.

I like Save the Children’s ‘espas timoun’. It takes away stress and makes me smile and laugh. I especially like Fridays when we do lots of creative things. I like to sing, make jokes and play guessing games.

When I’m grown up I’d like to be a helicopter pilot. My school is now open and it makes me feel very good. I like maths and French. But I don’t like the new place we learn in — it’s made of wood and concrete and there are no games [to play].

At home I don’t eat well anymore because my mother doesn’t have enough money to buy food. And when it rains we get wet.

I still have bad dreams that people and bad spirits come and punch me, but I stab them and kill them.




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Re: Birthday Project 2010: In Their Own Words--Haiti's Children Speak

Unread postby Theresa » Tue Jun 08, 2010 4:23 pm

Derchine's Story

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MntO4_1BLs
[youtube]2MntO4_1BLs[/youtube]


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Derchine, 13 years old

Life before the earthquake was good. Before, our house was normal. After the earthquake it was completely cracked and nobody dared to go inside.

Now, I feel very bad. I live in a small tent with nine people living in it, including my grandmother and cousins. It’s so hot during the day that I can’t stay in the tent. I have to put water on my head so that I feel better.

I was at home the day of the earthquake. My mum kept telling me to go to church, but I didn’t want to go. But she said she’d punish me, so I went. [When the earthquake hit] the walls and lots of stones started falling down on me. I was trapped and injured. I was crying and in a lot of pain. The church was completely destroyed. [She eventually managed to escape].

My uncle died at his house but nobody noticed ‘till the next day. Two of my friends were also killed. I haven’t seen another friend I used to play with a lot since 12 January.

When I grow up I want to be a doctor. My school still isn’t open. I was supposed to be taking tests but I can’t — it makes me feel bad. I know that if a child doesn’t go to school, they will still live, but they won’t live as well.




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