Friday, September 10, 2010

“Cash-for-Work” programs helping Haitians get self sufficient

Guest blogger Todd Scribner, of USCCB Migration and Refugee Services, brings to our attention today the “Cash-for-Work” program that is helping people in Haiti to earn a living while preparing the country to live through the first rainy season after the earthquake:

The January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti left tens of thousands of people with next to nothing. Homes were destroyed, businesses closed and, worst of all, lives lost. In its immediate aftermath, hundreds of thousands of people in the Port-Au-Prince area were forced to move into tent camps set up throughout the city. Thanks to the dedication of organizations like Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the basic needs of people living in these camps were taken care of in the following months.

At the end of March, the Haitian government ended the general food distribution services in the camps, with the hope that Haitians living there would become more self sufficient. In response, and as a way to help achieve this objective, CRS and other organizations that were running camps around the city put into place a “Cash for Work” program. This program has provided some employment opportunities for people living in the camps in and around Port-Au-Prince.

Their aim was to give people more than just handouts; to offer an opportunity to make some money that could then be used as an investment in a small business of their own or to cover the cost of their daily necessities. Cash-for-work programs also provide residents an opportunity to reinvest in their own community and in doing so help the local economy. The jobs that people fill provide vital services for their neighborhood, including digging drainage channels to protect against flooding and ensuring that washrooms remain clean, so as to avoid the spread of disease.

Visit to see a short video on the indispensible contribution that the cash-for-work program provides in preparing for and living through the rainy season in Haiti and the dangers of flooding that accompany it.

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