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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Haiti, Nine Months Later

It’s been nine months since I last stepped onto the island. I still remember the devastation caused by the earthquake, the camps of injured and newly orphaned children, the thousands of tired people standing in endless lines to receive a minimal quantity of aid, the brick and mortar homes reduced to piles of rubble, the lingering smell of corpses that received no burial and the ever-increasing demand for aid that simply could not be met.

The earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12 killed 200,000 people, injured 300,000, displaced 2.3 million and caused $8 billion in damage. I witnessed the ensuing emergency chaos that shattered the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. Walking through the camps, I heard victims’ stories of trials and tribulations; and when I landed in a makeshift hospital myself from dehydration, I heard screams echoing around me. It was a trip I’ll never forget.

Since I left Haiti, Islamic Relief USA has continued to provide support for over 8,000 Haitians through relief and recovery programs focusing on shelter, camp management support and water and sanitation IR USA is also working to ensure that people have access to food and basic needs through cash-for-work programs.

More than 450 people were hired by Islamic Relief to clear 20,000 tons of rubble from destroyed and damaged buildings, allowing more than 100 families to return to their homes. Damaged schools are being provided materials and labor for repair so an estimated 2,500 students can return to school. And over 600 youth are being trained in computer and trade skills through Islamic Relief USA’s vocational training center.

While the initial emergency chaos has waned, Haiti is not recovering from the quake rapidly or smoothly enough. Poor infrastructure, an excessively dense population, a lack of adequate building standards, an unbalanced division of economic activity, and other factors have hindered Haiti’s recovery.

Haiti still needs our help. Now more than ever. Please donate to Islamic Relief USA so we can continue our work there.

--Karim Amin, Domestic Programs Coordinator for Islamic Relief USA
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