IBBY Appeal for Haiti

Thank you for all the messages of solidarity that have been arriving at the IBBY Secretariat.  Moreover, IBBY would like to thank all the generous donors who have sent their financial support to the IBBY appeal.  We are honoured to be part of such a caring and supportive community.

List of donations to date. (26.4.2010)

Visit the USBBY website for more information about how to donate from the US. To make your donation just follow this link: IBBY Children in Crisis Fund  and mark it IBBY HAITI APPEAL 2010

Message from IBBY Haiti

As the representative of AYIBBY, the National Section of Haiti, I would like to take this opportunity to tell you how we appreciate the spontaneous movement of solidarity from all the IBBY sections after the devastating earthquake on January 12.

We lost some Ayibby members, we lost thousands of people.  We lost books, buildings and everything. With your contribution, we are reading to children, offering them comfort in books through bibliotherapy sessions. We are still struggling. Thousands of children are still living under precarious tents, many had lost their parents. We have fewer books than before in a country where many children were not exposed to books.  Many schools  will not be able to reopen. But there is one lesson that we learned. We are not alone. People do care about each other and it is an important value to pass on  children everywhere.

Jocelyne Trouillott, Port au Prince

September 2010

Latest News: June 2010

Since 2007 an active IBBY section in Haiti (Ayibby) under the leadership of Jocelyne Trouillot has been operating amongst the schools and centres for children in the Port au Prince and Montrouis area. The section is based at the Universite Caraibe in Port au Prince at the University press offices.  Jocelyne Trouillot-Lévy is the Rectrice of the University and one of the most prominent authors for children in Haiti.  She writes under the pen-name of Joslin Twouyo and has published books in French and Creole.  Jocelyne and Professor Nadine Gaspard are our main contacts, although the section has among its members many people active in children's literature, such as authors, translators, illustrators, teachers, as well as other organizations.  Before establishing the IBBY Section this group had been active for many years under the name Li pou plezi (read for pleasure), and have campaigned for books in Creole raising the general awareness of children's literature in Haiti.  They worked with the support of the Ministry of Education and other partners in education.

With support from the IBBY-Yamada Fund a successful project called the Joyful Caravan of Books took books to children in areas that had no real access to books and where books in their home language was severely limited.  Volunteers were trained in storytelling and creating reading materials based on local customs and traditions.  The project reached hundreds of children in four different geographic areas, children who would never otherwise have had the chance to read for pleasure as their only books were school text books. 

A year later four devastating storms hit the coastal areas of western Haiti.

IBBY Haiti/Ayibby immediately planned another much larger project to provide bibliotherapy for the children who had been traumatized by the effects of the hurricanes – losing their families, their homes.  Many children were also in need following the collapse of their school when fellow students were killed and many injured.  The power of storytelling is great: "Literature helps us re-write our own stories.  Escaping into literature, in another person’s story is an exercise for our imagination, feelings and language.  Reading stories restores us by providing a necessary relief from the struggle of moment-by-moment ad hoc reacting.  The story we read is a relief from chaos." [Carmen Diana Dearden, Read to Live, Copenhagen IBBY conference 2008] 

With support from the IBBY Children in Crisis Fund, IBBY Haiti trained aide-counsellors, selected the best books available, translated and printed many into Haitian Creole, and worked in several schools in the worst-affected areas of Gonaives and Cabaret. 

A year later a devastating earthquake shook and destroyed the lives of thousands.

IBBY international immediately launched an appeal to collect funds for Haiti. The appeal for funds has done well and approximately donations worth CHF 41,000 have been given.  To date IBBY has sent USD 30,000 to IBBY Haiti/Ayibby in three batches.

After many worrying days our friend and colleague Jocelyne made contact and assured that she was well and would start a new project as soon as she could locate and get her team back together.

Jocelyne and her colleagues identified the camps in which they could work and started working in some of the smaller ones.  They made an inventory of the books that survived in the schools from the previous programme.  Although many of the schools where they worked earlier had collapsed – the head of one of the most supportive school sadly died during the earthquake.  At least 75% of the schools in Port au Prince were destroyed!

IBBY has been able to help with the reading and bibliotherapy programme by sending funds for the re-printing of the books, as well as for the training and support of the staff.  Jocelyne and her colleagues have also been receiving local donations and from overseas Haitians.  Publishers attending the Bologna Children's Book Fair in March this year donated children's books in French and these have been slowly making their way to where they can be used.

Luckily one of the printing presses that had not been damaged has been able to re-print some of the books needed for the bibliotherapy sessions.  In order to have some appropriate books, they quickly re-printed some of the books they had found useful during the earlier project: Bèlanblan ak Bèlanjòn, the story of the friendship of two butterflies who helped each other during sickness and hospitalization.  They had  some beautiful results when working with Gougou pè chyen (Gougou is afraid of dogs).  Jocelyne told us that it was remarkable how the children moved from Gougou’s fear to talking about their own fear of the earthquake and the many aftershocks.  Ti Pouch deals with a child in a wheelchair who insisted he could be the goalie for his team at school.  It was obvious that the children need to be prepared to accept more handicaps.  A new story Goudougoudou, dealing directly with the earthquake was printed recently and used with children in camps and schools.  Goudougoudou relates the adventures of two children who lost their mother on January 12 and eventually find their way to their grandmother in the countryside.  The book is dedicated to the daughter and son of Magalie and Florence, two Ayibby members who perished on that day. 

The team went into the camps to provide through bibliotherapy some relief for the children.  At the beginning, they had seven aide-counsellors who were joined by seven others in March after receiving a two-week training in bibliotherapy.  Unfortunately, more than 50 children and youngsters often went to the sessions, with only two aide-counsellors at each session.  Other problems included late delivery of books, because of the still difficult logistic situation, but they made sure that the children got them even after the sessions were finished.  Many of the books were kept at the camps by the camp supervisors but not all camps could offer an adequate place in which to keep books.

Each aide-counsellor kept an observation and evaluation notebook in which they recorded the happenings of the sessions.  Every few weeks the project director Nadine Gaspard, with the help of some active members, organizes an evaluation session to discuss progress and any difficulties.

During the first two months, the team mainly worked with the reprinted books and copies, but soon they were able to place an order for the purchase of new titles.  A good number of books were delivered in April and the remaining are due to be delivered upon payment.  The section is also looking for shelving to keep the books out of the mud; at present they are kept in boxes.  The hurricane season is approaching, but so far they have been lucky with just heavy rain!

IBBY Haiti/Ayibby will coordinate some work with UNICEF, CODE and the Brazilian Cultural Centre in Haiti.

Jocelyne wrote that it was really fortunate that IBBY Haiti/Ayibby had acquired previous experience with bibliotherapy following the storms the year before – they were ready to help immediately when the need was the greatest.  In most cases, they were also able to distribute a snack to the children: mainly provided by Food for the Poor.

The administration of the project was also very efficiently done.  At a time of an incredible chaos, they were able to gather the team together, select the camps, identify the groups of children, make the necessary contacts with other NGOs and other organizations working in Port au Prince.  It was even more remarkable when one thinks that at the beginning of the project they had to start at zero: most of the institutions that Ayibby worked with and their own members had lost everything.

They are now looking forward to the last segment of the project in which they will work in other regions, such as Ganthier and Leogane – the epicentre of the earthquake – as well as with the orphanages. 

June 2010

Latest News: February 2010

IBBY Haiti has been meeting to discuss their plan of action.  Last year an IBBY Children in Crisis project was running in Gonaives following the tragic flooding, but now the needs are much greater and more than 100,000 children and teenagers are in need.

In Port au Prince things are becoming less chaotic but there are still some huge problems to solve: building of some decent camps, feeding people, health services and of course helping the children. Jocelyne and her colleagues have identified the camps in which they can work and will start with some of the smaller ones. Because of the lack of books and reading material they have been looking how the printing industry has survived.  One of the printing presses that had not been damaged is willing to reproduce some of the books that will be needed for the bibliotherapy sessions. 

Meanwhile, members of IBBY Haiti are doing an inventory of the books that have survived in the schools from the previous programme.  Although many of the schools were they worked before have collapsed – at least 75% of the schools in Port au Prince were destroyed!  Fatima Moreau, the head of one of the most supportive school sadly died during the earthquake.  There is no news of this school.

The team is planning to start as soon as possible before the schools re-open.  IBBY will be able to help with the reading and bibliotherapy programme by sending funds for the re-printing of the books, as well as for the training and support of the staff.  The banks that were not completely destroyed are opening and slowly beginning to accept international payments.  Already, Jocelyne and her colleagues are helping by taking local donations and from overseas Haitians to the camps. 

The basic approach is to encourage local organizations to help with many of the aspects other than training in bibliotherapy and the reprinting and purchasing of the books.  For instance, the Catholic Relief Services have indicated that they will provide a snack for the children at the reading sessions. IBBY Haiti also will work with UNICEF.   The children who left Port au Prince for other towns and cities can be reached more easily by UNICEF and those children who have witnessed so much also need some bibliotherapy sessions to help them recover and regain their childhood. Everybody is so busy in Haiti!


Latest news: January 2010

We want to share with you the latest news from IBBY Haiti:

We want to express our sincere thanks to all the IBBY family.  In this difficult time, it feels good to know other people care.  The children of Haiti are suffering. We have more orphans now and many children have lost an arm or a leg under the debris.

Our section lost a member who was active with the children in Gonaives. Her house collapsed on her and her own child was  seen in a camp. She is only 11. We are trying to locate her.

Our first approach will be to the children in camps.

27 January 2010

Our friend and colleague at IBBY Haiti has made contact and set us this moving letter just 3 days after the earthquake:

The Universite Caraibe and most universities in Port au Prince are completely destroyed. Most schools too.  Thousands of school children and university students are under those buildings.  Many cadavers have been removed from the streets by the state today.  We have survivors.  Thousands of houses have collapsed.  Rich and poor have lost families and houses.  I cannot describe the horrors.

I have seen so many corpses today, many of my own students are dead or injured, I don't want to describe it.

I hope to be able to coordinate some help next week.  For now, we have to bury the dead.  The children of Haiti will need some psychological help and bibliotherapy will certainly bring some healing to them.  Schools will not reopen until September or October.  The buildings and the teachers are not there.   We will have to find other places, many churches have also been destroyed.

Thank you again for your support.

Most of the IBBY books that were in storage at the Universite or at the schools have been destroyed.  I asked today if I could find them in the debris, but I understood the people were more concerned about the corpses that started to smell and to find some survivors.

We stay positive, but for most of us we will need strong will power.

IBBY Haiti: Jocelyne Trouillot, Port au Prince, Haiti, 16 January 2010

To IBBY friends around the world

This week’s earthquake in Haiti has left us all shaken and shocked: our friends are there.  Yet another tragic disaster has hit the poorest country in the western hemisphere.  We have already seen the nations of the world pledging help with basic medical and food aid. 

But they need more than that. 

For the past year our colleagues at IBBY Haiti have been running a Children in Crisis project to train teachers, librarians and carers how to use the healing power of storytelling and books after natural and environmental disasters, such as the series of enormous storms that  hit Haiti in recent years and the collapse of a school that killed many children in 2008.  The earthquake on 12 January 2010 has wreaked so much more havoc and brought death to thousands, and a very uncertain future to millions more.

We are trying to reach Jocelyne Trouillot and her colleagues at IBBY Haiti, but we have no news so far nor do we know anything about the children who have been participating in our programme.   If we can find her and she is in a position to start a new Children in Crisis response IBBY will of course support her 100%. Meanwhile, we will accept funds in trust for IBBY Haiti to help the surviving children and their families through the healing power of books and storytelling.  At the very least we can try to make sure that they receive books in Creole, something that has been an important consideration in Jocelyne’s work.

All donations are welcome.  You can donate through the IBBY website by using a credit card or by making direct transfers using your bank: follow the following link: IBBY Children in Crisis Fund.   

We shall be sharing news with you as we get it.  This tragedy has touched us all: Jocelyne is an active member of our IBBY family and as always the children are suffering the most.  Half the population of Port-au-Prince are children!

Help us to help them.

Thank you

International Board on Books for Young People
Bringing Books and Children Together