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Rebuilding livelihoods in Haiti

04 Jan 2011

Jean Bertrand, his family and goatOne of the things I've found time and time again since working at HelpAge in Haiti post-earthquake is that older people want to get back on their feet as quickly as possible.

They have families to support and want to be involved in the reconstruction of their country.

Livelihoods destroyed

So when we interviewed older people about how they would like us to help them after the earthquake, we found that this desire for independence had been hit hard, as 76% said their livelihood had been either fully or partially destroyed.

To try and address this, we have given thousands of cash transfers to older people so they can restart the income generating activities they were doing before the earthquake.

I spoke to Jean Bertrand Julien, a beneficiary of our cash transfer programme bought a goat to support his family.

Raising seven daughters

He said: "I was born on 9 November 1945 at Croix-des-Bouquets. Since I was young I have been raising goats and sheep. Sometimes I would borrow money to buy cows so I could sell them on for a small profit.

"Raising and selling livestock has allowed my wife Massilia and I to support our family and bring up our seven daughters. Three of them are married and live in their own homes. The four others, the youngest, are still dependent on me.

"Money is rare"

"My house was destroyed in the earthquake. I sought refuge in one of the temporary camps with my family. Since then I have not been able to work as I did before. Money is rare. The people who used to lend me money either died in the earthquake or have been financially ruined by it. I didn't have anyone to help me start up my work again.

"When I received 2,000 gourdes (50 USD) from HelpAge's cash transfer programme, I was very happy. I used part of the money to buy this goat and the rest I used to clear my debts and pay off certain obligations I had. One goat is not enough but it's a good start to get back on my feet raising and selling livestock.

"A few weeks ago, I returned home thanks to Concern International who rebuilt my house and a few other homes in the area."

Read more about HelpAge's work in Haiti

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Author profile

Claudel Victor
Country: Haiti
Job title: Communications Officer

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