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Response to Emergencies


Gothenburg, Sweden. August, 2010
Madeleine Baillargeon

Last January 12, Haiti was stricken by an earthquake which destroyed an important part of its capital and surroundings. Right on the following day and soon after, I had received messages from persons worried, like myself, especially about our members of OMEP Haiti. We have to say, in recent years, Haiti had been through many other natural disasters and threats and the country was already one of the poorest of the world. Many of the received messages suggested a special fundraising campaign and the two other Committees from the region of North America and the Caribbean were even preparing to contact their members.


The World Executive Committee had a phone conference to be held on the issue on January 17. After the discussion, it has been decided to launch a general appeal to OMEP National Committees. This appeal was sent by e-mail on January 22 and posted on the website on January 25 and 26.

Meanwhile, many contacts were made with OMEP Haiti and we were happy to learn that their Board members had survived. However, we learned about their very hard living conditions, the loss of some of their family members as well as many damaged and destroyed schools, already too few even before the quake. After the appeal to the members has been launched, the Haitians mentioned many times their need for psychological support. I then began looking for relevant resources and sent them a list I had prepared.

After the meeting of March 13, OMEP Haiti sent me a text where they mentioned two prioritized needs to dedicate the special fund to: 1) psychological support 2) help for the damaged or destroyed schools to get back to work.


OMEP Haiti wished for “seminars to be presented in Haiti by persons who might help control negative feelings everyone has to face since the quake.” It wished to better fill parents and children’s expectations and help children understand death, mourning, natural disasters. Among the proposed resources were two Quebec specialists in mourning for adults and children, and co-authors of a guidebook on interventions with children, who seemed to be relevant to the wish of Haitians. Finally, one of them Claire Foch, psychotherapist, travelled to Port-au-Prince and presented two workshops, each for two days, and a public conference hosted by OMEP Haiti. During her stay, from May 4 to 11, Foch was also interviewed by a journalist from an important local newspaper and participated in a popular TV show, broadcasted many times. These were some other means to reach a larger public.

Upon her return, Foch sent a report and a few pictures. OMEP Haiti also sent its report (see below, in French).

The psychotherapist’s honorarium as well as transportation and the insurance expenses for this journey were paid directly by OMEP Canada using already received donations. Indeed, it seemed simpler and cheaper to do so, the expenses being charged in Canada preventing expensive bank transfers. Please note that Foch was accommodated, fed and transported by an OMEP Haiti member.

As per July 12, we know we can count on a residual amount of some USD13 571.52, collected by Committees from Canada, China, France, Iceland, and Korea. The World Assembly might be an opportunity for other Committees to make donations.

The fund might be dedicated to address the second priority expressed by OMEP Haiti, i.e. help damaged or destroyed schools to get back to work. According to the previously adopted orientations, OMEP Haiti now wishes to specifically support the Normal School for early childhood educators to get its library back in operation.

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