World Vision starts child-focused programs for Haitian quake survivors

Separation from family a critical threat to safety of quake-affected children

JIMANI, Dominican Republic, Jan. 22 /CNW/ - World Vision opened two children's centres at the San Jose Recovery Center and the Good Samaritan Hospital at the Haiti-Dominican Republic border town of Jimani. The centres, called child-friendly spaces, are designed to provide children with a safe and structured place to go during crises.

The relief, development and advocacy organization has expressed concern that children - especially those separated from their families - are at risk for neglect, abuse or exploitation. The organization specifically noted the movement of children without families toward the border with the Dominican Republic as a particular danger.

"When disasters hit, children are always the most vulnerable," said Carleen McGuinty, child protection policy advisor at World Vision Canada. "Their safety and security is of paramount concern, particularly for those who are separated from their families. The extreme poverty of Haiti already puts many children at risk of exploitation and abuse. Being separated from their families only increased their vulnerability."

At the centers, trained volunteers from the Dominican Republic community will engage children in activities and games as well as provide them with food, pediatric care and child psychological support with the guidance of a child psychologist.

World Vision also is planning to establish recreational spaces, activities and support to adults caring for their children.

World Vision frequently operates child-friendly spaces worldwide where children's lives have been disrupted by natural disaster, conflict or exploitation. They usually consist of large tents managed by World Vision staff and trained community volunteers where children can engage in activities - such as playing, drawing, singing, and sharing their feelings - that help them begin to return to a normal routine and heal from the emotional after-effects of a catastrophic event.

"Right now, children's most urgent needs are basic necessities, primary health care, protection and reunification with their families," said McGuinty.

    
    -   World Vision donors support more than 52,000 children in Haiti,
        including more than 10,800 children supported by Canadians.
    -   Canadians have donated more than $9 million for World Vision's relief
        work in Haiti. For more information, please visit worldvision.ca or
        call 1-800-268-5528.
    -   World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy
        organization dedicated to working with children, families and
        communities to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision serves
        all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.
    

SOURCE World Vision Canada

For further information: For further information: To interview World Vision staff or for more information or visuals, please contact: Yoko Kobayashi, (905) 565-6200 ext. 2151, (416) 671-0086 (cell), yoko_kobayashi@worldvision.ca; Britt Hamilton, (905) 565-6200 ext. 3973, (416) 419-1321 (cell), britt_hamilton@worldvision.ca


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