“This Work Means A Lot To Me,” Says Haitian Quake Mother

It’s tough digging with a shovel under the hot sun but Cassandre Chery, 28, is glad to have the work. She’s been homeless since the earthquake and says that work in Haiti is scarce. With the money she earns helping to rebuild her country, she’s able to buy food and keep her kids in school. Watch video

PORT-AU-PRINCE –“This work means a lot to me,” said the mother of two who has been living with her family in a tent since their house was destroyed by the earthquake. “It has helped me pay school fees and feed my two daughters.”

Hers was one of 30 “food-for work” and “cash-for-work” (CFW) projects run by the non-governmental organization, World Vision, and financed by WFP in Haiti in 2010.

In the work party to which Cassandre belonged, there were more than 200 men and women who spent long hours clearing rubble from roads and drainage channels.

Cassandre wearing a shirt that says cash and food for work“Difficult to find work”

When the earthquake struck, she and her family were at the entrance to their home. A block of concrete fell on Cassandre’s leg and broke her foot but, otherwise, they were uninjured.

They were not able to salvage much from the ruins of their house – a rocking chair, some clothes and a portable television which they can no longer watch because there is no electricity in the camp.

“It’s difficult to find work now,” says Cassandre who was training to be a beautician as well as doing some gardening before the earthquake.

“My husband used to get work as a security guard but he hasn’t had any jobs since the earthquake. I sometimes do small things like painting people’s nails. Sometimes the girls have gone hungry but usually I’ve been able to borrow enough food from neighbours. When the CFW job came along, that made a big difference.”

Tons of rubble

The government of Haiti estimates the earthquake produced more than 20 million tons of rubble. Each clearance project is approved by the Ministry of the Environment.

Haitian villagers working to remove rubble“There’s a lot of work to be done,” says Emmanuel Okuko of World Vision. “The challenge is sharing the work around so that all the people who want to can participate.”

The removal of the debris will take years. But, street by street and building by building, teams such as this one in Delmas are making a difference – and earning some useful money for themselves.