Young people thrive in post-earthquake Haiti

Unemployment and lack of decision-making power are familiar challenges for young people in both Haiti and the UK. But for young Haitians living in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, the struggle to be heard and to earn a basic income can be especially difficult.

After the devastating earthquake in Haiti, young people are training in new skills so they have a better chance to find a job or start their own business. They are also learning how to lobby decision makers on issues that affect young people, including natural disasters.

In May 2015, 65 per cent of young people we spoke to felt their opinions were rarely or never listened to and did not participate in decision making. In 12 months, 83 youth leaders have formed ‘leadership committees’ in their communities to ensure decision makers and local organisations meet the needs of young people.

Furthermore, less than 50 per cent of the young people believed they could do anything to reduce their risk to disaster and most of the young people were unaware of the community resources available. In one year, 514 young Haitians have been trained to reduce the impacts of natural disasters. 30 community-based organisations have also been trained in disaster resilience – with 100 per cent of participants feeling confident about what to do in case of an earthquake.

24 year-old Elizée Gaston who now works as a Health Officer for a local organisation said: “These courses allow me to be more involved in my community. Currently Cité Soleil is prey to heavy rains, causing significant flooding. With the other youth in the programme, we are starting to make exploratory visits to see the extent of the damage, and target the most affected areas to plan our interventions with the people of the community.”

The young people we’re working with have also started using their enterprise and employability skills to generate and income. 24 year-old Eliassaint Christela is a mother of one and an amputee who lost her left foot during the earthquake in 2010. Despite her disability, Eliassaint is currently training to become a professional house cleaner: “I didn’t think I would be accepted on the training because of my disability. I really enjoy it. After this training I would like to find a job that can help me to take care of my son.”

More than half the young people reported being without an income before the training started. By April 2018, we’re aiming to reach over 1,000 young people, and train them in skills in promising tourism and construction sectors – such as catering, hospitality, masonry, tiling and plumbing. Click here to find out more about our work in Haiti.

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