“We need education, jobs and a say in the future” say Haitian youth
Getting “back to school” is the number-one desire for most young people eyeing the future of quake-stricken Haiti.
A nationwide consultation of nearly 1,000 children and youths, ages ranging from 5 to 24, was recently conducted by children’s organizations Plan International and UNICEF. The findings were submitted to support the strong need for children’s voices to be recognized in the blueprint for Haiti’s reconstruction plans, which is being released at a major donor’s conference this week in New York City.
Plan, UNICEF and other children’s organizations are encouraging the major decision makers to take into consideration the hopes, wants and needs of young people while planning the reconstruction process in Haiti where more than half of the population is under the age of 18.
Plan recently consulted with approximately 1,000 children across Haiti through focus groups that facilitated targeted discussion on such issues as gender, disability, vulnerability, education, access to services and disaster risk reduction. The youths were asked to discuss their hopes and dreams for their own futures and the future of their country.
Plan found that what Haitian young people wanted the most right now is to get back to school. “I sincerely hope to go back to school because I think one is nothing in life without knowledge. Before January 12, I received no training, no information on natural disasters. So I think that we have to better prepare for potential earthquakes, avoiding uncontrolled construction,” said one 16-year-old boy.
Also high on the list of the youths’ goals were better housing, health, water and transport. Many expressed a desire for better services in the provinces and less focus on the already crowded and over-stretched capital of Port-au-Prince. And among their concerns were security and worries that they are not prepared for future disasters.
Another girl said: “I wish this were the moment of change in Haiti. We must create jobs for young people because they are the future of this country.”
“If the money is available, this will be the best opportunity in a generation to improve the situation there and reduce the underlying vulnerability that caused such a serious crisis. The reconstruction process needs to address the priorities voiced by children if it is to realize long term benefits,” said Roger Yates, Director of Disaster Risk Management at Plan International.
Plan will help Haitian children bring their ideas to important decision makers of the PDNA, on the 31st of March in New York. Participants in this donor meeting include representatives of the Haitian government, international experts, and representatives from the World Bank.
Read the full report on Haiti's Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA)
Watch a short video on the Post Disaster Needs Assessment process