> Posted by Melissa Lumpkin
Since the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti, I’ve been in close communication with the President and Directeur Général of Sogesol. The DG confirmed that she, along with several staff and ACCION’s resident advisor, were at the Sogesol headquarters in Petion-Ville when the earthquake hit. Fortunately, they were able to get out of the building and safely home. Yet, a disaster of this magnitude leaves no one untouched – all have lost many close friends and witnessed widespread destruction. Our own resident advisor, Cassandre DuPont, wrote, “Melissa, the conditions here in Haiti are unimaginable. Please… help. It is worse than a war zone.”
It is hard to find words to express the relief I felt upon learning that Cassandre was evacuated and arrived home this week. But I realize that many will not have the same happy ending. Sogesol has ten branches and 194 employees in the Port au Prince metropolitan and surrounding provincial areas severely affected by the quake. The fate of all staff and clients in the Port-au-Prince area is not yet known, but Sogesol’s management continues to try to locate them. Emergency relief has begun, to get food, water and medical care to the many in need. Yet, once the initial crisis has passed, the earthquake’s destruction of local Haitian businesses will be sorely felt by the families, neighbors and communities that depend on them for basic goods and services. The poor Haitians that Sogesol serves will desperately need support to help rebuild their livelihoods.
This is not the first time Haiti and Sogesol have experienced natural disasters – less than two years ago devastating hurricanes struck the country which left 800 dead and literally wiped out thousands of homes and businesses. Sogesol quickly assessed the damage, accounted for staff and clients, and began working with affected clients to help get their businesses up and running again. Each client was handled on a case-by-case basis, and Sogesol worked to find the appropriate solutions and financial services needed to restore their clients’ livelihoods.
We encourage you to support Sogesol’s rebuilding efforts and help their clients regain their livelihoods by clicking here. The Microcredit Summit has compiled a broad list of microfinance institutions working in Haiti and able to channel support to the rebuilding process, which you can access here.
Melissa Lumpkin is project manager and board representative for ACCION’s partner in Haiti, Sogesol.