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HelpAge's distribution in Haiti is going strong

12 Feb 2010

Latest on HelpAge's relief effort out in Haiti - 10 February

HelpAge distributed food and basic essential items. It is the first open-air distribution made exclusively for older people. The distribution was planned with IPESI (Institute of Promotion of Studies and Integrated Care), a group run by Madame Njemba Jean Suze.

Before the earthquake, she specialised in providing training to carers, as well as home care, preventive health and a small scale feeding programme to its group's members. The IPESI centre was totally flattened in the quake and nothing remains, not even the files Madame Suze kept with details of her members.

In the days leading up to the distribution, older people from the devastated Port-au-Prince neighbourhood of Croix Deprez were registered and told to come to a specific place for distribution two days later. Happily, on the day of the distribution only four of the people previously registered did not come for their food and basic essential items.

Distribution is a success

Approximately 75 people received a food kit containing: 2.5 kg of rice, 2.5 kg of beans, 2.5 kg of sugar, two packs of spaghetti, 1kg onions, 3 dried herrings, 0.5kg of salt, 1 litre of oil and 1 tin of mackerel.

They also received wellbeing kits, which contained items such as soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, shampoo, towels and many other cleaning products (pictured right).

As often happens, word had spread in the two days between registration and distribution and on the day many more people than were previously registered turned up. Initially annoyed at not being included, they quickly accepted that their names would be taken and a further distribution done for them. A further 102 names were taken for this second round.

Strength and tenacity of Haiti's older people

Several older people who received relief supplies could not help staying on at the distribution point in order to show their gratitude to HelpAge International. As they hugged members of the team, they were saying that they were not able to receive assistance distributed in the camps:

"We could not stay in the long lines, people were pushing us. But, this distribution was specially made for us, everything went well. Thank you HelpAge."

Initial worries that the food and wellbeing kits would be too heavy for the older people to carry home were mostly unfounded. Those who looked unlikely to be able to carry much at all stuck their mosquito nets under their arm, picked up their red buckets with the same hand, hoisted their food packets (10kg) with the other and with a polite thankyou hared off into the sunset.

Lesson: We should never underestimate the strength and tenacity of the Haitian older person!

Read more about HelpAge's work in Haiti.

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Author profile

Bertin Meance
Country: Haiti
Job title: Program Support Manager

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These blogs are personal reflections and do not necessarily reflect the views of HelpAge International.