Haiti is a country located on an island in the Caribbean. In recent years, many of its people have been living in poverty with problems like not having enough food or good houses to live in. There has also not been a very safe and stable government to help people. In addition to these problems, a major earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010.
The earthquake caused many
buildings to collapse, and thousands of people died. Over a million more were
left homeless and living in poor conditions that have been causing illnesses.
Lots of countries, organizations, and individuals rushed to Haiti’s side to
provide support, but the damage was very significant and a lot of work still
1. Who, what, and where is Haiti?
Haiti is part of an island known as Hispaniola, located in the Caribbean. Its neighboring country to the east which makes up the other part of the island is the Dominican Republic. Haiti is home to about nine and a half million people, and its main languages are Haitian Creole and French.
In recent years, Haiti has been a country that is underdeveloped, meaning that it lacks basic needs like food, shelters, medicine, and even the resources to improve. Many people in Haiti live in poverty. Haiti has also had political difficulties, which have made it even harder for the country to overcome challenges.
In addition to the
problems they were already facing, a devastating earthquake struck Haiti on January 12th, 2010.
2. What is an earthquake?
An earthquake is like a vibration or shaking of the ground that happens because of movement in the Earth’s crust. Although you might not know it when looking at the ground, the outermost layer of the Earth’s crust is made up of a series of plates (kind of like puzzle pieces), known as “tectonic plates.” These plates naturally move, slowly, causing them to build up stress. If enough stress builds up between two plates and is then released quickly, a big vibration, or “earthquake,” is felt in the surrounding area.
Some earthquakes come and go
without causing problems, however, major earthquakes can be particularly
dangerous if they strike an area that is lived in by many people, which is what
happened in Haiti. Haiti lies near
the border of the Caribbean and North American plates, and fault lines (where
plates meet) run right through the country, causing Haiti to be particularly
affected by any movement of these plates. However, in spite of its location,
Haiti had not experienced a major earthquake in about 200 years.
3. What happened in Haiti’s earthquake?
Haiti’s earthquake hit about
10 miles outside of Port-au-Prince, the capital city. Lots of buildings
collapsed, including hospitals, and many thousands of people died. Millions more were affected in other ways and
even a year later, more than a million people are still without homes. Due to the poor living conditions so many people
have been left with, illnesses are now spreading and causing more
4. What’s been happening since the earthquake?
Immediately following the earthquake, people and countries from around the world rushed to help Haiti as much as they could. Organizations, donors, governments, and individuals gave help in whatever ways they could – through giving money to buy supplies, donating clothing and food, volunteering time, and more.
A few months after the
earthquake, a new opportunity for improvement came when Haiti was scheduled to
elect a new president.
Unfortunately, the elections did not go smoothly; many Haitian citizens as well
as other independent groups and witnesses reported that there had been
5. How can I help?
There are lots of ways we can continue to help Haiti during this tough time. Most well-known aid organizations accept donations specifically for use in Haiti from those who would like to give. (And remember, even if you only have a small amount, that can help too!) You can also look for opportunities at local schools, government organizations, and community centers, who may be arranging canned-food drives or other collections for needed supplies. (And if they aren’t, see if you can help organize one!) You can also write letters to leaders and encourage them to continue to support Haiti. – While the damage in Haiti is extensive, there are ways that you can support relief efforts, even from afar!