Chief Executive Kirsty Smith visits Haiti 6 months after Hurricane Matthew

Posted on: Tuesday, 4th April, 2017
CEO Kirsty Smith in Haiti talking to Marie from our local L'Arche project helping children with disabilities.

Six months after Hurricane Matthew devastated parts of Haiti on 4th October 2016, CBM UK Chief Executive Kirsty Smith has just returned from a week spent surveying the damage and visiting projects helping some of those worst hit by the disaster.

Hurricane Matthew killed more than 1,000 people, causing huge damage in Haiti. Hundreds of thousands of people are still living in temporary shelters such as schools as their homes were damaged or destroyed. More than a million people are still left without access to essentials such as water and adequate hygiene and sanitation facilities.Hurricane Matthew - Haiti - Oct 2016 Damage in southwest of country in Chardonnières (Haitian Creole: Chadonyè)

People with disabilities often struggle to access vital services after emergencies, so CBM is working closely with local disabled people’s organisations and the Office of the Secretary of State for the Integration of Persons with Disabilities (BSEIPH) in the most affected areas to ensure people with disabilities get the support they need.

In the six month following Hurricane Matthew, CBM has helped over 11,600 people by:

  • Providing water filter units so communities can access safe drinking water
  • Distributing seeds and tools to people whose farms or small-holdings were destroyed
  • Rebuilding specialist schools for children with disabilities and
  • Providing psychological support groups to help those affected by the trauma

Kirsty Smith, Chief Executive for CBM UK said: "People with disabilities make up the world's largest minority - about 15% of the global population. But despite being most a risk in emergencies, the most vulnerable are often least likely to be able to access relief services offered by response agencies."

“One person I met was farmer William Joseph Luxama who is partially-blind. His home was completely IMG_32742destroyed and he lost his crops and livestock in the subsequent flooding. There is no government help in rural communities such as Etang Droit, an hour from the capital, Les Cayes. William said we were the only people who had visited him. William’s family has been living with a relative for six months; eventually he will be able to rebuild his home. We’ve already supplied him with grain which he will harvest in July. Half of it will feed the family while the other half will be sold to raise money towards his farm.”

“That's why we're committed to training and supporting governments and NGOs to reach people with disabilities, as well as delivering aid ourselves” explains Kirsty. “CBM’s priority is to ‘build back better’, not just temporary solutions but permanent ones which will withstand any future disasters in Haiti, thus protecting those most at need.”

 “We’d like to thank all those who have supported our emergency response to Hurricane Matthew. CBM has been on the ground since last October helping people with disabilities to rebuild their lives and livelihoods. It’s thanks to you whose generosity has made this disaster relief possible.”

CBM has over 100 years’ experience of providing relief and recovery for people living with and at risk of disabilities, at times of crisis, not only after the devastation of Hurricane Matthew in 2016 but the earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010.

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