World Vision survey: Haiti, a nation in mourning

    -   Opportunities to grieve, a new routine and access to basics are
        critical for families to recover from loss, aid organization says.
    -   Safe places for children providing normalcy and routine in chaotic

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Feb. 9 /CNW/ - Four weeks after the catastrophic quake, Haiti's survivors need more than ongoing physical relief such as food and shelter, World Vision said.

More than nine out of 10 people interviewed by the humanitarian organization have lost loved ones, including friends, extended or close family. Access to the basics of life and some sense of control is an essential part of coping with loss, according to World Vision.

World Vision spoke to 150 people across three sites in Port-au-Prince, where the relief, development and advocacy organization is providing emergency supplies and services to children and families. More than 40 per cent of people have lost an immediate family member, while 14 per cent said multiple members of their immediate family had been killed by the quake.

"Haiti is a nation in mourning," said World Vision's Child Protection Specialist Sian Platt. "People have not just lost homes, jobs and everything they own. They are somehow trying to come to terms with the death of those who loved and supported them."

"Ordinary people also need to be included and consulted in decisions made about the relief response, the recovery phase and the rebuilding of this country," said Platt. "A voice and a sense of ownership is extremely important in the healing process, for people individually as well as the nation as a whole."

As part of its relief effort, World Vision has established safe places for children across Port-au-Prince in order to provide them with a sense of normalcy and routine in such a chaotic environment.

"Children without parents or their traditional caregivers are at particular risk," said Platt. "They need protection and also opportunities to grieve. Everyone processes grief differently and children are the same. Play and forming new friendships are a powerful method of stabilizing their lives and giving them time to process their emotions."

"Tragically, some children do not yet know if their parents are alive or dead," added Platt. "In partnership with UNICEF, World Vision will be working across large parts of the country to trace and reunify children with their families."

Syndia, 8, is now living with neighbours after her parents were killed on January 12. "When the earthquake hit, the house was broken and destroyed," she said. "Mum and Dad were inside and they died. I cry every day. I cannot sleep. I think of my Mum."

Among other earthquake survivors who reported high blood pressure and lack of sleep was Elda Rosier, 45. She said: "It has touched us very deeply. We still dream about what happened. Very often my heart beats fast and I have a headache."

World Vision is urging aid agencies and the international community to focus on social reconstruction to help the healing process. This means working with families to restore social structure and a sense of normality, reinstating community services and structures, as well as rebuilding family and community networks.

Those wishing to help with World Vision's Haiti relief efforts can visit or call 1-800-268-5528.

SOURCE World Vision Canada

For further information: For further information: on survey results or to interview World Vision experts, please contact: Yoko Kobayashi, (905) 565-6200 ext. 2151, (416) 671-0086 (cell),; Britt Hamilton, (905) 565-6200 ext. 3973, (416) 275-1057 (cell),

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