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Focus on Haiti: A quake-affected mother identifies her needs

By: Jennifer Bakody

Santo Domingo, 11 February, 2010 – For lack of a better alternative, Nadine Laguerre and her newborn son, Daniel live in an eight-by-eight square foot room at a safe shelter in central Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Like any new mother, Nadine’s day revolves around Daniel’s needs: he’s hungry and she feeds him; he cries and she cradles him.

During the time when Daniel is sleeping, Nadine does the laundry and prepares the next meal for her and about 30 other children and adults.

They are all victims of the 12 January earthquake in Haiti. After receiving life-saving treatment elsewhere, this group is now being sheltered and nourished at the Posada de Belen temporary care center supported by the National Council for Children and Adolescents.

This time last month, life was very different for Nadine. She and her husband ran a successful store selling household goods. They lived with their four children in the suburbs of Port-au-Prince, and Nadine was almost eight months pregnant with the family’s fifth child.

A family divided

When the earthquake struck, Nadine was feeding her two-year-old son, Andy. They rushed outside, along with her husband and their three other children. A boulder fell on Andy’s arm, crushing it, while a collapsed concrete slab fell on their eldest daughter, Loudyne, gauging her arm and her breast.

Nadine sought urgent treatment for her two injured children in the Dominican Republic. Her husband, Louison stayed back on the streets of Port-au-Prince with the couple’s two other daughters, Mushecaina, 9, and Ismael, 15.

Responding to the needs of children and caregivers   

With an estimated 38% of the population of Haiti under the age of 15, this is a children’s emergency. Its response requires a comprehensive and coordinated approach to support the needs of children and their caregivers.

The urgent steps taken by UNICEF and its partners are now helping each member of the Lamatiniere family. UNICEF’s country office in the Dominican capital, Santo Domingo, is providing financial support to the Posada De Belen, allowing Nadine and Daniel access to safe and nutrient-rich food. Meanwhile at the Dario Contreras Hospital, also in Santo Domingo, UNICEF is working with the Dominican Ministry of Health to provide doctors, hygiene kits, high-energy supplements and recreation kits to children like Andy and Loudyne.

Over the border in Haiti, UNICEF and its partners have embarked on a massive effort to provide shelter, food, and safe water nationwide, targeting vulnerable people like Nadine’s husband and their two daughters. In addition, UNICEF has begun a major immunization campaign for 500,000 Haitian children under seven.

Rebuilding from the rubble

In a recent interview with UNICEF Radio, Nadine said she can hardly sleep or eat over the anxiety she feels. She cited an uncertain future for her eldest two children who were soon to graduate secondary school, while her new baby boy, born premature but healthy three weeks ago in the Dominican Republic, is without a home.

“I am extremely grateful to every person and organization that has thought of us and helped us,” she said. “Now my wish is that I could get some help to rebuild my business because I have a lot of responsibilities. Instead of giving us handouts, I’d prefer assistance over the longer term, because I want to be able to provide myself for our children and their future.” 

When the global media spotlight inevitably moves away from the earthquake in Haiti, the needs of children and their families will not disappear. That is why UNICEF and its partners are committed to the well-being of Haiti’s children and their families over the long-term.

For more information
Tamar Hahn, thahn@unicef.org, UNICEF America Latina y el Caribe, Tel  + 507 3017485

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.


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