by Daniel Schnitzer
Within weeks of the earthquake that devastated Haiti on January 12th, 2010, reports of violence against women in Port-au-Prince’s internally displaced camps emerged. EarthSpark immediately focused its efforts to increase public safety in less secure areas by distributing solar lamps. We targeted this distribution to women, who are most vulnerable at night when they walk through the unlit camps to latrines or washing areas.
Nearly two years later, EarthSpark and its partners have distributed over 8,000 solar lights to women and their families in camps throughout Port-au-Prince and other affected areas. We partnered with the Clinton Global Initiative, Partners in Health, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and smaller organizations like KOFAVIV and KONPAY, to distribute lamps to women as individuals and in solidarity groups. Three main distributions of a few thousand lamps each were carried out in April 2010, September 2010 and most recently in December 2011.
Thanks to the documentation efforts of Melinda Miles of Let Haiti Live and photographer Evan Abramson, we are pleased to share with you, our supporters, this short video showing the profound effects of a simple solar lamp. We are very grateful to the American Jewish World Service, the Urban Zen Foundation, Asha Jyothi, PACT and Citizen Effect for funding this work.
Last month, working with the United Nations Environment Programme’s local health lead, Ernest Mondésir of EarthSpark International coordinated the distribution of solar lights through Linkin Park’s Power the World campaign. These lights were given to midwives in rural southern Haiti where they often work to deliver babies by only the light of a candle or small kerosene lamp. While there remain many challenges in their work, these small solar lights will at least provide reliable, smoke-free light.