By Katie Chalk in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
On a drizzly morning after a steady, all-night rain, the women line up patiently and quietly, clutching coupons in their hands. Their feet are covered with mud from the walk here.
A food distribution has commenced on plastic sheets outside a school building. World Vision has been using this location to distribute World Food Program (WFP) supplies for nearly a month now, using a hardworking local team of 23 World Vision staff. Since the January earthquake, World Vision and WFP have reached more than 1.1 million people with food.
Each distribution is very carefully planned, from the security (usually provided by U.N.) to the measures taken to ensure fairness and legitimacy. The distributions always take place in neutral, fenced areas, like this school, away from the crowded homeless camps.
A few days ago, World Vision invited families in three different camps to register for the distribution. If they qualified for aid, they were given coupons and told where and when to come. This is a women-only distribution, though many have husbands or brothers waiting outside the gates to help them carry the goods home.
About 2,000 households will receive help today. The coupons in the women’s hands show which camp they’ve come from, and they are torn in two because this is the second half of the distribution. Yesterday the women collected sacks of rice. Today they’re getting lentils, corn soya blend, oil, sugar, and salt.
“I don’t know what we’re getting, actually. Whatever it is, it will be useful. We have nothing. None of us are able to find work yet,” says Rosehermite, a grandmother collecting food for her household of 12. “Last night we slept standing up. There was nowhere for the children to stay dry.” She adds that all of her grandchildren are sick in some way, either with fever, colds, or skin diseases.
Carole, who is pregnant, has not come far, but she did it on an empty stomach. She says she feels exhausted and hungry. She surrenders her coupon, puts her thumbprint against her name on a list, and receives her second sack of supplies. It weighs around 25kg, and the best way to carry it is on her head.
Carole says the food is worth the wait. “I’m going to wait till I get home and open it in front of my family,” she says. “I’m very thankful.”
Katie Chalk is a communications manager for World Vision in the Asia/Pacific region.