More often, however, parents and caregivers are desperate to find their missing children. Alienne Cadet continues to look for Pascal’s family members.
When the earthquake hit, 2-year-old Geralda was playing with her neighbor’s children while her aunt Carole, who had raised her since birth, was out. When Carole didn’t come home, the neighbor took refuge with Geralda and her own family in a makeshift settlement. Carole later returned to find her street in ruins.
Caseworker Barbara Morreau (center) registered Geralda in late March. With a photo of the girl in hand, she searched Port-au-Prince’s Centreville neighborhood for Carole. It took 12 days to find her.
With help from the neighbor, Morreau was able to verify Carole’s identity. “When I found Carole and showed her the picture she was absolutely astonished and amazed,” Morreau says. “She really believed the little girl was dead.”
Geralda and Carole reunited on April 8. “It was like a miracle,” says Morreau.
Jennifer Morgan, who coordinates IRC’s family tracing programs in Haiti, says that, in a country with both a tradition of placing children in orphanages and a history of child trafficking, there’s much to be done to strengthen child protection systems. Aid groups are working with the government to improve services for vulnerable children, and family reunification efforts continue.
For more information: IRC’s Haiti Special Crisis Report
Melissa Winkler is the senior director of communications at the International Rescue Committee, a global aid organization that provides emergency and recovery assistance to people affected by violent conflict and natural disasters. Melissa worked as a journalist for 12 years before joining the IRC.