It’s been three years since the catastrophic, magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit the Caribbean island of Haiti nearly 15 miles from Port-au-Prince, the nation’s capitol and most populated area. The devastation was both widespread and completely demoralizing, costing between $8 and $14 billion, as estimated by the Inter-American Development Bank.
Today, the effects of the tragedy are still evident and being felt by the enduring islanders. The road to recovery has been a very slow process. Haitian cities are still struggling to rebuild. Social problems have afflicted Haiti, along with deteriorating health conditions. Professional Paul Steinfurth believes charitable organizations like the safe haven for orphans, Zanmi Beni, are essential to the revitalization of the shattered country.
The Immediate Effects
- At least 52 aftershocks of magnitude 4.5 or higher were recorded.
- Between 200,000 and 250,000 people were killed one million displaced. Approximately 3 million felt the effects of the hurricane.
- In Port-au-Prince alone, almost 200,000 homes were destroyed or damaged. Over 1,300 schools and most of Haiti’s municipal buildings were destroyed.
- Most roads were damaged making it nearly impossible for emergency personnel to reach the most devastated areas. Telecommunication was also majorly disrupted making communication between rescuers and the public difficult.
- There were shortages of food and clean water. The thousands who lost homes slept in the streets, cars or makeshift shelters.
Dominican Republic offered temporary medical assistance to refugees, as did organizations like the United Nations. Search and rescue teams from all over the world arrived in Haiti for immediate assistance to encourage the recovery process.
Zanmi Beni Children’s Home
In 2010, Operation Blessing joined forces with Partners in Health’s sister organization, Zanmi Lasante, to open Zanmi Beni (meaning “Blessed Friend” in Creole). Their mission, to provide a home for orphans and special needs children in Port-au-Prince.
The earthquake in 2010 damaged the General Hospital where many of these children had been cared for. Even at the hospital, they had faced unfavorable conditions. With no home, they were housed in the property now known as Zanmi Beni. The children receive round-the-clock care including physical therapy sessions, class time, activities and nutritious meals. The children also benefit from new dormitory facilities. Paul Steinfurth is a strong supporter of the Zanmi Beni home and the heartwarming cause.
Other charitable organizations designed to help Haiti include:
- Hope for Haiti. Operating out of Port-au-Prince and Les Cayes, its members serve the most remote areas to help improve the quality of life for Haitians through education, nutrition and healthcare.
- J/P Haitian Health Relief Organization. This organization was set up by actor Sean Penn to help bring relief quickly and effectively. The members support hospitals, the government, religious and community organizations. They work in conjunction with other charitable and U.S. government organizations.
Haiti has made some strides in recovery, such as the development of the Haiti Housing Collaborative, aimed at the construction of affordable housing for many of the individuals who lost their homes. However, much still needs to be done. Paul Steinfurth urges others to do what they can to encourage this seemingly stagnant recovery process and help the Haitian regain a normal life as well as Haiti’s social and political stability.
Paul Steinfurth is a real estate professional, serving as Manager at Style Holdings, LLC. While he oversees the operations of the company, he feels it is his duty to give back to the community. He has given back to many organizations including the Zanmbi Beni Children’s Home.