Haiti: The aid effort six months on

ON January 12 this year, a devastating earthquake ripped through the Caribbean island of Haiti, killing more than 230,000 people and displacing thousands more from their homes.

A massive aid operation immediately swung into action as international governments and humanitarian organisations battled to get food and other vital supplies to the areas where they were most needed.

It’s an operation which continues to this day – six months on – and one in which a young woman from WGC is playing a crucial role.

Phoebe Aranki-Stoves works for the Department for International Development (DFID) in London – the part of the UK government that manages Britain’s aid to poor countries.

She joined the department in February and since then has helped co-ordinate aid efforts following natural disasters in no fewer than four countries – Haiti, Afghanistan, Chile and Guatemala.

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The 25-year-old, of Dawley, told the Welwyn Hatfield Times she enjoyed her work.

“It is absolutely critical the kind of work that I am doing here in getting aid to the people that need it,” she said.

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“It is the most gratifying thing you could imagine to do.”

Phoebe, who attended Monk’s Walk School in Knightsfield, admitted her job could be stressful at times, due to the early starts and late finishes.

“There is a lot of pressure and also you are representing the government,” she said.

However, she emphasised that the positives far outweighed the negatives.

“The greatest thing for me is just realising how many people you have helped,” she said.

“For example, if you spend a million pounds on a campaign such as Action Against Hunger in Haiti, that allows 160,000 people to get food and water.

“These are lives saved, there is no two ways about it.”

The coalition government recently unveiled plans to slash departmental budgets as it attempts to bring the UK’s spiralling national debt under control.

Yet ministers elected to ring-fence DFID’s international aid budget – a decision which pleased Phoebe.

“In these austere times, as a nation, we can still afford to help those countries that have nothing,” she said.

“Morally it is the correct thing to do.”

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