accessibility & help

Luciana’s story: giving birth in an earthquake

Luciana Pierre Jean, 28, was living in Port-au-Prince when she gave birth to her son on the day of the earthquake, 12 January 2010.

She lost everything in the disaster and had previously been disowned by her family and abandoned by her boyfriend when she became pregnant.

After the quake, she moved back to her native town of Coteaux in the South Department, where she found a tiny, damp room with a leaking roof to live in.

Not long after, she fell sick with cholera and only survived because she was taken to the Red Cross cholera treatment centre in Port-à-Piment and nursed to recovery.

However, things began to look up when she received a British Red Cross cash grant of $250 to help cover her basic needs.

Business training

In May 2011, Luciana took part in the British Red Cross business training programme, before receiving a second grant.

“The training was interesting and very useful,” she said. “I do things differently now. I investigate to see what items are currently in demand.

"There are certain products that people keep asking for but can’t find. I invest in these products and buy them on the weekend then hang on to the items until the middle of the week when they are more in demand.”

Luciana also worked on a Red Cross community infrastructure project in Coteaux, building stone walls to fortify the ravines around the hills of her village to prevent flooding that brings devastation to the area with the annual heavy rains.

Luciana said: “I was happy to get this job working in the ravine, because I don’t like just sitting around at home doing nothing.

“I feel much better since receiving the Red Cross grant. I moved to a new house and bought a bed, a few things for the house and a toy for my son.

"My son’s health is also better now we don’t sleep on the floor. He had a bad cold, but I was able to buy medicine to help him.

"It’s hard for me to think past the next few months, but one thing I know is I hope to send my son to school. I hope to save the money to do this.”

Although the South Department was not directly affected by the earthquake, around 120,000 people moved to this region after the disaster. People struggled with poverty before the population shift and life became increasingly difficult for thousands in these communities.

The British Red Cross gave cash grants, livelihoods training and support to more than 3,000 people so they could start small businesses and improve their ability to provide for themselves.

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