Proving it

Jan 11, 2013

Jan Haiti: three earthquake commemorations, three steps in reconstruction

11
2013

 

On January 12th, 2010, a devastating earthquake struck Haiti. People across the island of Ireland made an incredible response to our emergency appeal, raising €1.1 million. Thanks to the generosity and solidarity of supporters like you, a lot of tangible progress has been made. However major challenges remain to rebuild Haiti. Three years on, hundreds of thousands of Haitians are still living under tents and tarpaulins with very limited access to basic services, such as sanitation, health care and education.  
 
Urban planner Agathe Nougaret has been living and working in Haiti since December 2010. She joined Oxfam as an Urban Coordinator in August 2012. Here, she writes about finding hope as the third anniversary of the earthquake approaches.
 
I can’t believe it’s been three years already since the earthquake hit in January 2010. I wasn’t in Haiti for “le 12” (“the 12th” a local term to refer to the earthquake), I didn’t witness the mayhem and great solidarity with my own eyes. I arrived months after, when the reconstruction process was supposed to kick-off, once rescue teams and emergency settlement professionals had done their job.
 
 
 
CAPTIONS: Top-Left: “Buying drinkable water every day was not that easy for people in the neighbourhood. This is one more reason to value the Oxfam intervention,” says Andson Fils-Aimé, who helped build this protected spring-fed water-collection point in the Merger area. Photo: Anna Fawcus / Oxfam. Top-Right: A broken landmark in Croix-Desprez, Port-au-Prince. Photo: Agathe Nougaret/Oxfam. Bottom-left: This mountain of waste in Croix-Desprez, Port-au-Prince, is a daunting task for 2013. Agathe Nougaret/Oxfam Bottom-Right: Yvon Neptune (58): “I moved here in 2009, so I can tell what the difference is since Oxfam did the water captage and canalisation, and started its sensitisation campaign in 2011. This is the answer to the cholera threat and also to other waterborne diseases and malaria.” 

January, 12th, 2011

I spent the first anniversary of the earthquake on the steps of the destroyed cathedral, in downtown Port-au-Prince. In the middle of a political crisis, Haitians had stopped burning tyres to ask for their vote to be accounted for. Everyone gathered in front of this symbol of despair, dressed in white, screaming his or her pain. I was so overwhelmed that I didn’t prepare for the questions. As a foreigner, many people came to me to ask why the international community was not rebuilding homes for the victims and stopping the cholera outbreak. I did my best to explain that the scale of the disaster took everyone aback, and setting up temporary settlements, camps in other words, was a complicated and tedious task. “There are less cholera victims in camps than anywhere else thanks to NGO efforts”, I said, but my voice got lost in the fervent religious clamour. What could I say, how could I justify the stalemate Haiti experienced? No available land, no government... I didn’t have words of comfort for the people suffering around me.

January 12th, 2012

Last year, I went to the Port-au-Prince cemetery for the second anniversary of the earthquake. There I met cemetery employees who had to deal with thousands of bodies days after the earthquake. Their stories sent shivers down my spine. Next to the 01/12 memorial sculpture newly built in the cemetery, I met a poet and a painter who explained to me how art helped them to cope with the trauma. They were hopeful, though. So much rubble had been cleared in the past year. The new president promised to take action for what really matters, education of Haitian kids. NGOs were starting to repair homes and even build permanent houses. Over the Christmas holiday, the camp in front of my office had been cleared by the Haitian government through a relocation programme run by international agencies. I was personally involved in this great movement, and I was proud. These first little steps were the hardest to take, as we were paving the way for an important scale-up in relocation and reconstruction efforts.
 

January 12th, 2013

I haven’t decided where I’ll spend the anniversary yet. I want to be somewhere significant, where I feel part of the Haitian community. I think I’ll choose the Villa Rosa slum, where I completed a NGO project last June, repairing and building 600 permanent homes. I don’t want to join the choir of critics who state that big land-owners will never help us rebuild the country, that the Government doesn’t have the means to do its job, that 358,000 people still live in camps. They might be right, but I want to celebrate our successes, this year. We have found ways to involve the community in planning, rebuilding and managing their neighbourhoods, and we’ve helped the government to see slums as a challenge, not as a threat. We’re working hard to convince donors to let us replicate this first set of pilot projects. The task was so daunting three years ago, but slowly, we’re getting there. That’s what I want to remember on January 12th.
 
Dec 24, 2012

Dec You made the difference in 2012

24
2012

Relief for those caught in crisis. Water where there was drought. Communities equipped with the skills and knowledge to help themselves. Campaigning that challenges injustice and the root causes of poverty.

Lives changed. All made possible in 2012 by supporters with big hearts and one united voice.

ABOVE: Adoaga from Chad pictured with her family.  We continue to reach people in West Africa through the work you support.

As we mark the end of 2012 and look forward to the New Year, I want to express my gratitude to each and every one of you for what we’ve achieved together in 2012.

Operating in a difficult economic climate has meant that we must do more with less, which is why we are so grateful for your support.

In the past year, you supported our life-changing work with your time, your energy, your dedication and your money.

Regardless of how you contributed, your support has made the difference.

It’s thanks to you that we can achieve so much... from taking the lead in Ireland by responding to the West Africa food crisis to showing politicians North and South why women’s rights must be put at the heart of the international agenda through our Ending Poverty Starts with Women campaign.

We have also continued our work with people affected by the 2011 East Africa food crisis in Kenya and Somalia, along with responding the escalating situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where we are currently providing water, sanitation, food and cash transfer to local communities and those who have fled their homes to escape the terrible conflict.

AVOVE: Supporters at festivals for our campaign on women's rights.  RIGHT: Sharon Corr visits Tanzania with Oxfam to support the same campaign and to raise awareness about the issues that women face.

Our team in Tanzania is reaching hundreds of thousands of people with the We Can campaign, which tackles the attitudes and behaviours that permit violence against women and encourages ordinary people to become change-makers in their local communities, recruiting others to do the same. This is just one of many incredible initiatives taking place in the 94 countries where we work around the world.

Our success in helping people affected by poverty and injustice to change their lives for the better would be impossible without the support of people like you.

On behalf of all the team at Oxfam Ireland, we wish you a very Happy New Year.

Jim Clarken
Chief Executive
Oxfam Ireland

Nov 12, 2012

Nov Sharon Corr travels to Tanzania with us

12
2012

As part of our Ending Poverty Starts with Women campaign, our ambassador Sharon Corr and acclaimed photographer Barry McCall travelled to Tanzania to see how we’re helping women to stand up for their rights. Oxfam's own Communications and Marketing Executive Clare Quinlan travelled with Sharon to see how your donations are making a difference.  Here's her account of the trip.

A chorus of singers welcomed us as we arrived. Their voices filled the air, creating a sense of celebration and excitement.

The reason for our visit to Lyenge village – part of a week-long trip to Tanzania – was to meet Ester Jerome Mtegule and other inspirational women who are shaping the future of their communities.

TOP LEFT: Our ambassador Sharon Corr meets Female Food Heroes winner Ester Jerome Mtegule at her home in Lyenge village. TOP RIGHT: Rice farmer Halima Shida shares a moment with Sharon Corr outside her home in Kimamba village. ABOVE: Sharon Corr meets last year’s finalists (from left to right) Mwandiwe Makame, Anna Oloshiro and the winner Ester Jerome Mtegule, along with Oxfam Ireland’s Monica Gorman, at the launch of the 2012 Female Food Heroes competition. All photos by Barry McCall/Oxfam

Ester was the winner of our Female Food Heroes competition in 2011. It reached around 25 million Tanzanians – more than half the country’s population – through television, radio and newspapers. This year’s contest was being launched on her home turf, and Sharon was invited to Lyenge as the guest of honour.

The reason why Female Food Heroes is so important is because it celebrates the role played by women who farm and produce food.

Women are at the heart of Oxfam’s work – they make up 43 per cent of the agricultural workforce in the countries where we work, but often face discrimination when trying to get ownership of the land they farm.

Our Ending Poverty Starts with Women campaign is calling for better support for women food producers so that they can become leaders in their own communities.

Because of widespread media coverage in Tanzania, the Female Food Heroes competition brought important issues to national attention.

Ester and her fellow finalists – whittled down to 10 from 7,000 entrants by a panel of expert judges and a public vote by 10,000 people – participated in a week-long X Factor-style ‘boot camp’ where they received training to enhance their existing skills in farming and food production.


 
TOP: Sharon Corr attends an event in Mgeta village organised as part of our We Can campaign to combat domestic violence. This social movement recruits ‘change-makers’, people who pledge to change their attitudes and behaviours towards violence against women. ABOVE LEFT: Sharon gets ready to play traditional Irish music for locals in Kimamba village. ABOVE RIGHT: Sharon wears a traditional African headscarf presented to her by local women from Iyenge village. All photos by Barry McCall/Oxfam

Following a public vote, Ester was awarded first place. She proudly showed us the tractor that she won and also the grain store that she now manages on behalf of her community.

During the time we spent with Ester she warmly welcomed us into her home, where she wrapped Sharon’s hair into a traditional African headscarf and showed her how to grind maize, one of the staple foods in Tanzania.

The impact of the Female Food Heroes competition on Ester's life has been remarkable and she's now become the farmers’ representative on her local district council.

She's also using her prize of a tractor to help others in her community and so far, 10 other farmers have benefited from use of the machine.

Ester says that farming, “like anything worthwhile in life, takes discipline and hard work. Discipline is everything. We need more discipline in agriculture if we are really determined to end food insecurity.”

She has become a beacon of hope for all in her community.

We also met the two runners-up of the 2011 competition, Anna Oloshuro Kalaita and Mwandiwe Makame, each of whom won solar panels. They told us how their lives have changed as a result. They are using their prizes to benefit other women in their communities in a number of ways, such as charging household lamps.

TOP: Sharon Corr dances with local women and men in Kimamba village. Your donations help us to support many female rice farmers from the village to get title deeds to their land so they can farm their land securely and free from outside threats. ABOVE LEFT: Sharon watches a dramatisation of domestic violence as part of the We Can campaign with Furaha Kimaro, our Gender Programme Officer. ABOVE RIGHT: Sharon meets a young girl as she arrives at the home of Ester Jerome Mtegule, last year’s winner of the Female Food Heroes competition. All photos by Barry McCall/Oxfam

Throughout the visit, Sharon showed great compassion and empathy towards everyone she met. You can see her meeting Ester and other Female Food Heroes in the video below.

In Lyenge, we had arrived to the sounds of women singing in harmony. We left with an insight into how much is achieved when women can be empowered to come together and build a better future for their communities.

To add your voice to our call for increased government support for projects that empower women and combat gender-based violence, sign up today.

Oct 22, 2012

Oct How you're helping in West Africa

22
2012

Widow Adoaga Ousmane (45) is responsible for finding food for her six children as well as caring for three grandchildren. Like many people caught up in the current West Africa food crisis, she finds food by picking tree leaves and digging up anthills to find wild grass seeds.

Even then, there is little to feed her family. “(At night time) I think a lot... about my family – what will they eat, what will I find for them, will I be able to feed them today, I make calculations for tomorrow,” she worries.

TOP LEFT: Adoaga looks for seeds in anthills in the hope of finding something for her family to eat. TOP RIGHT: Adoaga holds a bowl of leaves, which are used to make a ‘sauce’ to accompany traditional maize dish called la boule. Families grind the maize they receive at Oxfam’s food distributions to make the dish. ABOVE: Adoaga at home with her children. Your generous donations are providing emergency food aid for many families like Adoaga’s. All photos by Abbie Trayler-Smith/Oxfam

“I always think about how I’m going to find food for my children, wishing that my husband was still alive to help me provide for the children, because I don’t really have anyone I can turn to for help. If my friends have nothing to give me, we won’t eat anything.

“I let the children eat first until they are full and then I eat whatever is left, I need to build up enough strength so that I have the energy to find food for my children when this runs out so I have to make sure I keep some of the food for myself.”

Thanks to your response to our West Africa appeal, we’re providing food to families like Adoaga’s in the Guéra region of Chad.

TOP: Adoaga’s child licks her spoon clean after eating. ABOVE LEFT: The little girl with Adoaga. ABOVE RIGHT: Adoaga at home with her children. All photos by Abbie Trayler-Smith/Oxfam

On the day of our food distribution, Adoaga is clearly relieved to be able to feed her family. “All my worries have now left me and I am much calmer. I can find sleep more easily. If I eat like this more often then my stomach will be full and I will begin to grow stronger.

I feel well today. Much better and calmer than before the food distribution and I have less worries now that we have enough food for a while. “We are eating bigger portions and with more nutrition so my children and I can sleep much more easily.”

Oxfam distributed food to 61,326 people in the Guéra region between May and September 2012. Each family receives 34 kilos of maize, 4-5 kilos of beans, 2.25 litres of oil and 0.37 grams of salt, enough food to feed an average family for one month. Your generosity is making a huge difference.

We aim to reach a total of 1.8 million people across Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and the Gambia with emergency aid. But we need to raise more money in order to do so.

Oct 22, 2012

Oct Water is life

22
2012

It’s finally here. Helen Ewoton, her husband and her five children in Nawoyatir in Turkana, northern Kenya, have been waiting for this day for a very long time. Today, thanks to your support, Oxfam will dig a new borehole to provide clean water.

“There is water here and Oxfam knew the water was here,” says Helen (48). “When I saw the drillers I felt very happy. We were all very happy when we saw the water spurting out.”

TOP: The borehole means Helen can access water locally, ending her daily three-hour round trip. ABOVE LEFT: Helen says the borehole will improve the health of kids like her grandchild Kaisa. ABOVE RIGHT: The women of Nawoyatir village sing and dance to celebrate the arrival of clean water. All photos by Kieran Doherty/Oxfam.

Not only will it end their daily three-hour round trip to fetch water, but the arrival of this source of safe, clean drinking water has huge health benefits for the community of Nawoyatir. Previously, locals were forced to drink water from hand-dug wells sometimes contaminated by faeces. Serious water-related illnesses, such as cholera, are common in Turkana, an area that was badly hit by the East Africa food crisis in 2011.

This incredible video captures Helen and her community's delight as Oxfam builds them a borehole, bringing desperately needed fresh water to this village in northern Kenya. Thanks to everyone who donated to our appeal – your generosity has enabled us to implement projects like this.

“People get diseases drinking contaminated water,” Helen explains. “Some children from the neighbourhood became ill. One child lost their life. “The goodness of the borehole is that it provides clean water. It will bring hygiene at home. It will bring good health and will help the school children to bathe quickly and go to school. It will reduce the diarrhoea diseases in households.”

TOP LEFT: Engineers prepare the rig by putting the drill bit into place. TOP RIGHT: Drilling engineer Henry Kaisa (34). ABOVE: Pipes are laid out ready to line the borehole. All photos by Kieran Doherty/Oxfam

Helen’s livestock will also benefit from the new water supply. “It will help the goat not to catch any diseases. Those goats will multiply and become many in the household.” Helen and her community have celebrated the new borehole by writing a song:

“This song says Oxfam is good for coming to drill for us clean water. To me this is a good day, it’s a big event that they have drilled clean water. When there is no water there is no life. Water is life.”

ABOVE LEFT: Ipoo Ngachara (55) collects fresh water from the new water supply. TOP RIGHT: Children play in the borehole as fresh water is sprayed from a pipe. ABOVE RIGHT: Ipoo joins in the celebrations. All photos by Kieran Doherty/Oxfam

Only 15 per cent of the largely nomadic population of Turkana has a reliable water supply. Serious water-related illnesses, such as cholera, are common in this part of northern Kenya. We drilled and installed six boreholes with hand pumps between February and April 2012. At least 12,500 people are using them.

Thanks to your support, we are changing lives forever. To help us implement more projects like this, please give what you can today.

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