Rebuilding in Haiti: Reflections on the 12th Anniversary of the Earthquake

Today marks the 12th anniversary of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, which caused large-scale destruction to the country’s capital, Port Au Prince. It is a date Haitians will never forget; the day they experienced one of the worst natural disasters in the nation’s history, an earthquake registering 7.0 on the Richter scale. As the country continued to mourn the legacy of this disaster, in August of last year it was once again hit by another Earthquake, this time impacting the southwestern part of the island. The Earthquake was followed by Tropical Storm Grace two days later which swept across the country, causing further damage and suffering for the victims of the earthquake.

In response, the Goldin Institute launched a crowdfunding campaign to support our grassroots partners in Haiti, Daniel Tillias and Malya Villard-Appolon, who are on the frontlines responding to the needs of those most affected by the earthquake.

Will you join us in stepping up to support grassroots leaders in Haiti rebuild their lives?


The international response to the 2010 earthquake highlighted, starkly, disaster capitalism. Of the billions of dollars raised to help rebuild the country the majority was spent on foreign intervention and personnel, including international NGOs, UN agencies, and the US military. Very little of this money ever reached local communities, local businesses, or local civil society organisations.

Not only did the people of Haiti have to deal with rebuilding their lives following the disaster, they also became aware of how their suffering was being used to profit international institutions and consultants. $6.4 billion which they never saw.

"We must learn from the mistakes from the response to the 2010 earthquake. We need to sustain local businesses. We must invest in Haitian communities and businesses and use their services in this disaster relief as much as possible.” – Daniel Tillias

Recognizing the impact of these past failures, many local activists and leaders are resisting this model of foreign intervention and reliance on hand-outs (or on the hope that they might materialize), and calling on international donors and funders to channel their support to grassroots actors who have the knowledge and networks to ensure funds are directed and used adequately.

It has been five months since the 2021 earthquake hit Haiti. More than 2,200 people have died, 12,200 injured, and hundreds remain missing. More than 50,000 homes were destroyed and another 77,000 damaged. When reporting on disaster situations, death tolls often become shadowy figures and it becomes difficult to know what we can do to help; one of the most significant ways we can support is by trusting those local leaders who are on the frontlines of disaster response.

Daniel from Port au Prince, Haiti, works to improve the welfare of children and youth. In 2002 he co-founded a grass-root organization called SAKALA to promote peace and reconciliation in Haiti. With the computer Learning Center , Community Garden and sports activities, SAKALA has managed to provide a safe space in the heart of Cité Soleil (Haiti's largest underdeveloped area) where youth come together to grow, learn, and play.

Malya is a recipient of the CNN Hero Award due to her efforts against gender based violence in the displaced persons camps after the 2010 Earthquake in Haiti. She is also a co-founder of the Commission of Women Victims for Victims (KOFAVIV) working to support at risk women and girls.

As we reflect on this 12th anniversary of the great earthquake, we remain in mourning for Haitian families who lost so much, especially the women and children who were raped and abused as they were displaced to Petionville Square and other places across the country. We cannot forget. We need your support, especially for vulnerable women and girls who are still being victimized. -- Malya Villard Appolon

Together Daniel and Malya have been coordinating disaster response efforts on the ground to support children and women whose homes, businesses and families have been affected by the Earthquake and Tropical Storm Grace. They need urgent emergency relief to help women rebuild their small businesses to earn family income, to help them rebuild their homes and provide meals and school materials for their children. KOFAVIV supports 150 women survivors in Grand-Anse (Jeremie), Les Cayes, Barradères, and Port-Au Prince, who are currently under extreme conditions as their income generating activities have been ruined. Most of them are yet to recover from the previous Earthquake in 2010.

Please donate today to show your solidarity with Daniel, Malya and the people of Haiti.