WARWICK, R.I., Jan. 14 Aid workers from children's charity Plan International are in a race to help survivors of the devastating Haiti earthquake cope with the aftermath.
Plan USA's Interim President/CEO Audrey Bracey Deegan said that disaster experts from the nonprofit have arrived in Haiti to work alongside local Plan staff and other specialists. They are assessing immediate needs and will provide emergency assistance in the affected areas.
"Our hearts go out to the people of Haiti. Children are especially vulnerable in the wake of disasters, and Plan's child-centered focus will be especially critical for the recovery process. Plan responded quickly and is on the ground to provide what children need, which are safe spaces, temporary schools, and emotional support," Deegan added.
Plan, which has worked closely with Haitian communities since 1973, has already released more than US $500,000 in emergency funds, and has launched an international appeal to support its emergency operations, with a special concern for meeting the needs of the children.
Plan Haiti Director Rezene Tesfamariam said the devastation in the capital Port-au-Prince is on an "unimaginable" scale.
"I've seen villages destroyed by floods but this is something else. I've worked for Plan for 27 years and have seen all kinds of tragedies. I've seen refugees fighting for their lives and floods destroy communities, but I've never seen anything like this," he said.
Plan International's Director of Humanitarian Response & Disasters, Roger Yates, already on the ground in Haiti, said the Haitian people are doing their best to rescue people, often with their own hands, but international help is vital. "In such a terrible time, outside support is really important," Yates added.
Plan has four field offices that are located directly in the devastated areas around Port-au-Prince (Croix-des-Bouquets, Dolney, Beudet, and Freres). In the southeast region of Haiti, Plan's three field offices (La Vallee de Jacmel, Jacmel and Cayes-Jacmel) were also affected, with Jacmel reported to have been the most severely damaged by the quake. Collecting and distributing information from the regional staff on the ground is a key role for Plan. When the earthquake struck, these areas were in the process of recovering from last year's hurricanes, Gustav and Hanna. After these disasters, Plan implemented a special program to help re-launch micro-enterprises, and as a result, 1,700 women were assisted.
In 2009, Plan invested over $4 million in community development programs in Haiti, and a total of over $14 million in the last five years, with a particular emphasis on health and education. Haiti also has a robust child media program.
Plan, founded in 1937, raises funds in 21 countries and works in 48 developing countries worldwide. Plan's vision is of a world in which all children realize their full potential in societies that respect people's rights and dignity. Its innovative and cost-effective programs work holistically across the areas of education; health (including HIV/AIDS); child rights and protection; household economic security; water and sanitation; as well as disaster risk preparedness and management.
Plan USA has offices in Washington, DC, and Warwick, RI. To make a donation to Plan, please visit www.planusa.org.
SOURCE Plan USA