Haiti: We are Supporting victims of the Earthquake Regain Self-Sufficiency

AAR Japan’s Assistance to Reestablish Welfare Facilities for Persons with Disabilities

It is estimated that more than 4,000 people suffered some form of physical disability in the earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010. In Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, the social welfare system is still insufficient, despite the government's attempt to support various programs assisting persons with disabilities.  
Haitian Organization for Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities (OHRHA: Organisation Haïtienne pour la Réhabilitation des Handicapés),a local non-governmental organization located in Port-au-Prince, provides the opportunity for persons with disabilities to share their concerns and encourage one another. OHRHA’s programs had been inactive since its main building was destroyed by the earthquake. AAR Japan decided to assist OHRHA by setting up temporary structures, including an auditorium that can accommodate nearly 200 people, a classroom for computer classes, barrier-free restrooms, and wheelchair ramps. These new buildings were designed and built to protect against natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes. All construction work was completed in April, 2012. Furthermore, AAR Japan helped to kick-start their programs by supplying equipment such as 100 foldable chairs, 4 office file cabinets, and printers.

March 7, 2012 – OHRHA building severely damaged beyond repair.
May 30, 2012 – Completed auditorium. About 90 OHRHA users gathered to hear information regarding the new facilities, about welfare services for persons with disabilities, etc.

Computer Skill Training
Many of OHRHA members have physical disabilities, and claim that they find it difficult to win jobs that require some physical labor. With this in mind, AAR Japan decided to provide computer training in the new classrooms. Only a very small percentage of Haitians have the ability to operate computers, so gaining computer skills will improve their chances of getting employed. The 5-day course was held 10 times between May and July 2012, and a total of 38 people participated and gained basic computing skills such as typing, making calculations, using the internet, etc.

July 3, 2012 – Computer training. Students learning computer skills using the new classroom and new desks provided by AAR Japan.

One of the participants of the computer class was Mr. Andre LUCKNER (29). He has a 3 year-old daughter and a 7 month-old son. He worked as a bus driver before the disaster, but he lost one of his legs in the earthquake, and consequently lost his job. He now sells food and daily commodities to make a living, but it pays a lot less than his previous job did; it is not enough to provide for his family. With the hope of learning new skills and finding a better paying job, he decided to apply to take part in the training course.
Ms. Karine PIERRE is another student who completed the computer training course. She is now able to help her friends when they are having difficulties with any computer-related tasks.

May 05, 2012 – Mr. Andre LUCKNER (right) and Ms. Masumi HONDA (from AAR Japan’s Tokyo Office) at a training session.
The unemployment rate in Haiti is estimated to be over 40%. It is hard for people, with or without physical disabilities, to find employment. Like Mr. LUCKNER and Ms. PIERRE, the majority of participants enjoy the course and proactively work on improving their skills. They all seemed proud upon completion of the course, and expressed their gratitude as they received certificates at the course completion ceremony.

July 23, 2012 – Completion ceremony of the computer training courses. The second person from left in the front row is Ms. Keiko NAKAMURA, staff member of AAR Japan’s Haiti Office.
* This program is implemented with your generous donations and a grant received from Japan Platform (JPF).

Masumi HONDA, Tokyo Office
Masumi has worked at AAR Japan’s Tokyo Office since September 2011, mainly on the projects in Haiti. She majored in cultural anthropology at a university in the United States, worked for a private company upon graduation, and subsequently joined AAR Japan.