Haiti: In the “Women’s House”
February 24, 2010 by Melissa Winkler
The IRC’s Melissa Winkler is in Port-au-Prince to help Haitian earthquake survivors tell their stories and to document the IRC’s emergency work.
Kay Fanm means “women’s house” in Creole and for 25 years the Haitian organization has provided safety, sanctuary and hope for thousands of vulnerable women and girls, particularly victims of violence.
Last month’s earthquake that left large swaths of Port-au-Prince in ruins, destroyed Kay Fanm’s main office and a facility the group used for counseling, education and other programs. The quake also laid waste to a shelter for girls under the age of 17 who survived sexual assault and had nowhere else to turn.
In spite of extreme space constraints, Yolette, the extraordinary program coordinator at Kay Fanm, took nine girls, three of whom have babies, into her family’s home.
The IRC learned about the damage to Kay Fanm’s facilities and immediately offered support. Last week, we provided two durable tents, each one the size of a spacious living room or classroom, and today we delivered three more along with sturdy metal poles.
For the time being, the tents have been set up in Yolette’s yard.
Robyn Yaker, who oversees IRC’s efforts to increase protection for women and girls in Haiti and improve services for rape survivors, says the tents are being used as temporary living quarters for the girls and their children.
Kay Fanm is also using one as a makeshift classroom and another as a counseling and activity space.
You can learn more about how the IRC is working with overwhelmed local aid groups and helping quake survivors here.