The massive earthquake cut off power supplies, and thousands gathered in the blacked-out roads as powerful aftershocks continued well into the night. Many are now trying to dig the victims out of the rubble with whatever tools they can find. Communication lines are also down, satellite phones are the only way of talking to people on the ground.
Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world and has a long history of suffering destructive natural disasters and political turmoil. SOS Children's Villages has been very well set up in Haiti for many years and will do everything in its power to help those who need assistance most urgently, with a special focus on the children. SOS Children's Villages had run an emergency relief effort in Haiti as recently as late 2008, after the country had been hit by four severe tropical storms in short succession.
The main UN building in Port-au-Prince has also collapsed, and although pledges for immediate assistance have been made by the United States, the World Bank and many others, it is not known at present how a recovery will be organised.Due to the total breakdown of communication lines, the extent to which SOS Children's Villages in Haiti have been affected is not known at this point, but there is no doubt that immediate aid as well as long-term support will require a large amount of funds.
The National SOS Children's Village Association was founded in 1979; the first SOS Children's Village was completed in 1982. At present there are two SOS Children's Villages in Haiti, at Santo and Cap Haitien, two SOS Youth Facilities, two SOS Hermann Gmeiner Schools, two SOS Vocational Training Centres and four SOS Social Centres. Some 570 children and young people are currently being cared for in SOS facilities, more than 2,600 people receive support through our family strengthening programmes. More than 1,800 children and young people are receiving an education at two SOS Hermann Gmeiner Schools and two SOS Vocational Training Centres.