©InfoThe Haiti earthquake devastated the city of Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas on Tuesday 12 January 2010. Since then, the world's media have reported some of the tragedies, sufferings and occasional joy of people whose lives were changed forever on that day.
That media coverage will gradually fade away. The people of Haiti will begin the process of recovery and rebuilding.
This page is a collection of activities for teachers keen to keep students in touch with what happens from now on in Haiti.
Haiti who's who: matching activity
Cholera in Haiti: photo resource
Safety in camps: video resource
Rubble radio: video resource
Photo reflections: photo resource
A journalist in Haiti: audio resource
Emergency adoption options
What has life been like in and around Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, since the powerful earthquake just one year ago? Stimulate thinking about the people behind the news with this activity. The idea is to match the quotations below with the Haitian people who said them.
It can be done in groups, pairs or even as a whole class, and it is available in a powerpoint. Some guessing is necessary, though one or two can be pretty confidently matched. The point is to think about the words of the people and so get an insight into the reality of their lives. Note how the hopes and aspirations of those living in very poor conditions in camps are still recognisably similar to those of people anywhere.
Download the powerpoint.
1 Francoise Terminus, 73, now lives with her son and grandchildren in the Tapis Rouge camp. She used to sell a wide range of fruit and vegetables
2 Mario Joseph, 47, is a lawyer specialising in human rights cases. He has a reputation for defending the dispossessed and the vulnerable.
3 Evelyne Pierre, 23, was a beautician and is now a sex worker. She has to provide for herself and her young son after his father was killed in the earthquake.
4 Max Beauvoir, 76, is the supreme leader of Haitian Voodo, a religion practised by around half Haiti’s population. He led the opposition to mass anonymous burials of earthquake victims.
5 Marie-Carmelle Sainton, 38, makes a living selling school text books. She doesn't earn enough to send her own children to school.
6 Rose Ornilia Adne, 55, worked in a port as a wholesaler of chickens and charcoal. She now works with elderly people in the camp where she lives.
a “I think it was undignified, and I screamed… I said you cannot do that because we have beliefs. And in our beliefs, the body is sacred.”
b "I’d like the country to change. I'd like them to create colleges where poor children can go. Personally, I can't stand to think of my children doing what I do.
c “The fight to promote the rule of law in Haiti is a good fight. We will continue to do that.”
d "The earthquake never goes away. It's still shaking people."
e “We used to have coffee but our coffee is destroyed. We used to have Creole pigs. All this shows that the country has gone backwards. We used to have other opportunities. We would have a chance to eat if they were rebuilt.”
f "I provide for myself. Nobody provides for me… I can’t find work in this country. You finish school but you can’t find work. You have a trade but you can’t find work.”
Answers: 1d; 2c; 3f; 4a; 5b; 6e
Find out more about the people in the stories, and others, in a special multimedia project marking the disaster's one-year anniversary. One Day in Port-au-Prince, a project created by the agency Thomson Reuters, has photographs, profiles and videos designed to put viewers in the shoes of earthquake survivors.
It is possible to send a message to any of the people featured.
Attempt this quiz as a group or as individuals. Feel free to pause at any point to discuss, debate or follow up any item that interests you.
1. In early 2010, Haiti was struck by a natural disaster that dominated world-wide headlines for weeks. Was it:
a. very heavy rains and flooding?
b. an earthquake?
c. a volcano?
2. The disaster struck Haiti very hard. Was this mainly because:
a. it is a very poor country?
b. it is a very remote country?
c. large parts of the country were a conflict zone?
3. Local people did more to save lives and help the injured than aid agencies and rescue teams.
True or false?
4. A group of missionaries from the New Life Children's Refuge in the USA tried to take Haitian children into an orphanage. Were they:
a. praised by world leaders for their care and commitment?
b. criticised for their slow response?
c. arrested and jailed?
5. How long did it take for Haiti to reconstruct the damaged homes and buildings and return to normal life?
a. Six months
b. Nine months
c. Reconstruction is not complete, and won't be for years.
6. Haiti recently experienced an outbreak of cholera, a disease which can be fatal. Is cholera mainly caused by:
a. infections from unburied dead bodies?
b. lack of clean water, and unsanitary conditions?
c. unsafe internet use?
7. The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal for Haiti raised £101 million from the UK public. Since then another DEC appeal has been launched for life-saving work with millions of people affected by floods. In which country?
Answers at the end of the page.
Nine months after the initial disaster, a much-feared disease hit Haiti. Cholera is always a risk when, after a natural disaster, people live with restricted access to clean water and in unsanitary conditions.
Read this background information by the British Red Cross health advisory team.
Use the briefing to identify answers to the following questions:
- Why is cholera so feared?
- How can it be avoided?
- What is the treatment?
©InfoIn a group, or on your own, look through four photographs, which can be downloaded in a powerpoint. Each shows an aspect of training and health advice about avoiding and dealing with cholera.
- Imagine that you were one of the people shown in one of the photographs. What might you be thinking? How might you be feeling?
- Do a piece of creative writing, or a group drama exercise, that brings out the emotions and thoughts of the people involved. Include the key health messages too.
If you've looked at the previous activity, you will know that personal safety is a problem in camps. One of these photographs illustrates the point – showing what seems to be a heavy-duty padlock held by one of the women in one of the photographs. Can you find it? What does it say about life for people who have had to leave their homes?
If you understand Creole you'll know what this message means. If you don't, you may be able to guess…
Bon jou dlo, bonjou savon, orevwa mikwob
Tips: Try speaking it out loud. Be aware that Creole is based on French.
Answer at the end of the page.
Watch this short video clip filmed in the Terrain Acra camp in the Haitian capital Port au Prince. It shows a woman entering the place where she lives.
You can download this clip by logging into your free Vimeo account.
Safety in Haiti camps from British Red Cross on Vimeo.
At first, you watch and hear the woman, Terlena Day Isaac, who works for an aid agency, the American Refugee Committee. She is speaking Creole – so the chances are that you will not understand. Try to guess what she might be saying. The video suggests some prompts:
- What might Terlena be saying?
- Think about how she entered the place.
- How would you feel about living there?
- How would you feel at night? How about as a woman?
You can pause it at that point for longer thinking and discussion time. Then restart it and watch the clip again with the subtitles.
How right were you?
- Think about Terlena's words: “There’s no lock, there’s nothing – anyone can get inside. It’s simply not safe for me.” How important would this be to someone who had to leave their home? What practical ways might people find to increase their personal safety?
- Try to list three circumstances where privacy or security matters to you. What difference does feeling safe or feeling vulnerable make to your quality of life? Have you ever done anything that made someone else feel unsafe – accidentally or deliberately?
Many local councils have a community safety strategy. Use a library or an internet search to find what your council has done to improve community safety. List three things that you think have been worthwhile.
Write the words "rubble radio" on a board. Invite students to think for a moment.
What might rubble radio be?
Invite responses, prompt and share ideas. Explain that when the devastating earthquake struck Haiti on 12 January 2010, some radio stations managed to stay on air, or set up again soon afterwards.
For example, Signal FM station’s building didn’t collapse. Music kept playing, even through the terrifying roar of the quake. All 23 employees survived, but many lost relatives and homes in the earthquake. Very quickly the staff realised what a vital role radio broadcasts could play.
Show students the video. You can also download the clip by logging into your free Vimeo account.
Students now know what rubble radio is. Ask them what use it might be Haiti's recovery. What is the vital role that broadcasters think they can play?
In the UK, the BBC's charter says its mission is to "inform, educate and entertain". Ask students to imagine the lives of the people in Haiti at the moment. How might they like to be informed, educated and entertained? How important would it be?
Here are some current and recent uses of radio broadcasts in Haiti, as described by Haitians:
- to give broadcasters and listeners a chance to say how they feel about what happened
- to help listeners find out if family members are okay
- to enable listeners to leave a safe and well message for relatives
- to give advice on how to live after the earthquake, including sources of practical help
- to give early warnings of aftershocks and other events - such as hurricanes
- to help people get back to their normal lives
- to laugh and joke
- to enter competitions and get a chance to win money
- to make people happy and relaxed
Can students remember which ones were mentioned in the video?
Which of the uses listed is most important - educating, informing or entertaining? Think about different people - parents, the elderly, young people. Would they want different things? If some devastating emergency happened in the UK, what might students hope or expect to get from radio?
Remember the rapper on the video? Ask students to create their own rap, or other form of song or poem, to celebrate the energy, enthusiasm and humanity of Haitian radio broadcasters and their audiences.
These three photographs record aspects of humanity in the days following the Haiti earthquake. Use them as quick but thoughtful exercises, as a discussion trigger in tutor time or in assembly to encourage reflection.
Download a powerpoint containing the photos and teaching notes.
Photo 1: Residents help an injured boy in Port-au-Prince©Info
In a major disaster such as the Haiti earthquake most lives are saved by local people helping each other. The scene in this photograph, taken 48 hours after the earthquake struck, is just one example of thousands of humanitarian acts carried out, not by aid agencies but by ordinary people following their instincts.
Invite students to comment. What do they think of the care and concern that the people in the photograph show towards the injured boy? How does the sensitive and caring way he is being handled contrast with the basic equipment available, in this case a builder's wheelbarrow. What does that say about humanity – and poverty?
Photo 2: Makeshift mobile phone charging station©Info
Three days after the earthquake, a photographer spotted this service being offered to local people – a chance to charge their mobile phones in the centre of the devastated city.
Show students the photograph without the caption. Can they figure out what is going on? Observe the number of customers. Business seems to be good. Why might that be? Talk about the uses for a phone after an earthquake, and the problems keeping them working. Compare the speed and flexibility of services offered by local businesses with those of outside aid agencies. What other benefits of locally-run services can they think of? What disadvantages?
Photo 3: Queuing for cash as money starts to flow©Info
Two weeks after the earthquake, banks and money transfer companies in Haiti began to reopen. Each year, Haiti receives huge remittances from relatives working abroad. In 2008 they amounted to between $1.5 and 1.8 billion – a very large proportion of the country's economy.
Ask students to close their eyes and imagine people queuing after a disaster. What images come to mind? Compare and contrast with this photograph. People are not seeking aid-agency handouts. They are waiting for their own money. Many Haitians lost their ID and other documents in the earthquake. If students ran a money transfer agency, how would they solve that problem?
Like hundreds of other journalists, the BBC's New York correspondent Matthew Price interviewed scores of Haitian people in the aftermath of the earthquake.
By talking to him, they helped him in his job - which was to report on what had happened and how the people of Haiti were coping. But what was he doing for them?
This is what he told a BBC Radio 4 programme, the Media Show, about the guilt that he felt. Listen to the first audio clip.
"Near the end of an interview or a quick vox pop being gathered out on the street, people would say, 'What are you going to do for me?...Where is the help?'"
In a moment, students will have a chance to hear how the journalist, Matthew Price, says he responded to those questions. But first, ask students to imagine that they were in his position. If you had just interviewed earthquake survivors and they had asked what you were going to do for them, what would you reply? What would go through your mind?
Invite responses, all together, or in small groups.
When students have shared their thoughts, let them know what Matthew Price did. Listen to the second audio clip.
"Well, my initial answer is - look I'm not a doctor, I can't save people, and I don't have any medical training. I'm not a builder, I can't build things. What I am is a journalist, and that I genuinely hope that by taking the interview that you've just given us and putting it out on air, in Britain and around the world, that there will be people who see that who will then be encouraged either to give money at the basic level or there will be politicians who see that who will be encouraged to send more help from their national government. And that in its turn will make a difference."
What do students think of that response? How do they imagine the people he was interviewing might have reacted?
Price says that people seemed to understand.
The journalist goes on to talk about his sense of guilt. He was surrounded by people who needed help, and he was simply carrying on doing his job. He asks whether it would have been better to put down his camera and microphone and do whatever he could - shifting rubble or creating makeshift shelters.
What do students think? Should journalists carry on with their job, or offer basic help to people in need? Together, list the advantages and disadvantages.
Which factors are most persuasive?
After discussion, point out that Haiti wasn't short of strong, willing helpers who are familiar with the area, the people, the customs, the language and the culture. It is difficult to see what significant difference this outsider journalist could have made simply by offering his time and effort as an unskilled helper. He may well have a had a nice warm feeling inside if he felt he'd helped people directly. But that would be all about helping Matthew Price feel a bit better, not helping Haitians. He may very well have got in the way. Haitian people would have looked after him.
As a professional journalist, Price could bring news to the outside world. This valuable service is one which Haitians couldn't easily do for themselves. That's why most people would think it was far more useful for him to work as a journalist.
It is natural to feel powerless, angry, frustrated and guilty in the face of such suffering. But there are limits to the help that can be given directly. Three quick tips for situations like this, and other distressing situations that students may find themselves in:
Offer what you are good at, what you are experienced in or what you know you can do.
Listen to what people say they need. Don't try to guess.
Recognise and acknowledge feelings of guilt or anger - but don't be ruled by them. They don't help anyone else.
Is it a good idea to take vulnerable children out of an emergency zone to a new country? This quick activity invites students to vote before they read the aid agency guidelines.
Read the adoption quick activity
Haiti quiz answers: 1-b; 2-a; 3-true; 4-c; 5-c; 6-b; 7-Pakistan.
Language challenge answer: "Hello water, hello soap, goodbye bacteria"
This resource was written by PJ White and produced in February 2010. The rubble radio activity was added in April 2010. The Haiti quiz, cholera in Haiti and safety in camps activities were added in November 2010. The Haiti who's who activity was added in January 2011.