Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Six Months After the Earthquake, Older People in Haiti still need help.

Six months after the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January, older people need further help. As they are often affected by health issues, they can be as vulnerable as five-year old children. According Help Age International, around 800 000 Haitians, or about 7% of the population, are more than 60 years old. The number of older people affected by the earthquake is estimated at 200,000 persons. Many of them are homeless and lonely because they lost their close family members and relatives due to the earthquake or because they left Haiti. Some NGOs are reaching out to them.

One of the most important NGOs that is providing help to older people in Haiti is the charity “Mary’s Meals.” While its main focus remains feeding school children, the organization has extended its program to provide meals to additional vulnerable people, particularly old persons. Mary’s Meals provides them with a daily sit-down meal in schools during the week and gives them rations to take home for the weekend.

'’A lot of older people have been left unsupported because their families have moved away since the earthquake – they really need this support and we intend to continue to give it for the foreseeable future,’' stated Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, the founder of Mary’s Meals.

Older people make up a constituency who can help to rebuild Haiti. They know the country very well and are part of its history. The country should appeal to older people to plan its rebuilding.

Do you think that older persons could help re-build Hait? How could this be achieved? Have you had first-hand experience in a natural disaster? What happened? How did you manage this terrible challenge? Do you have skills that you could share with Haitians? If so, what are they?

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