02:29 AM

Télécoms Sans Frontières - How A Simple Phone Call Helps In Haiti

[Myriam Annette is communications coordinator for Télécoms Sans Frontières. Here is an extract from her first hand report:]

The scale of the devastation in Haiti continues to shock me. One million people are homeless and food and water remain scarce.

As we drive through Port-au-Prince, we see temporary camps covering every public square, park, soccer field and garden. Thousands of kids under the age of 5 are living in those camps. According to one report, more than 1 million children are now orphans.

Since the earthquake, our humanitarian calling operations have reconnected more than 5,000 families by providing them with free 3-minute international phone calls.

In the last three days, nearly 1,000 survivors used TSF's satellite-based telephones to reach their family in other countries.

These calls continue to remind us how something as simple as a phone call can offer help and hope amid the suffering.

As Shirley Lafleur, a 24-year-old mother told me: "My mother, my baby and I are still alive and we need help. We need money to buy food and water and continue to survive. Thanks to TSF's calling operations, I was able to get in touch with my sister in Orlando, in the USA, to tell her about our situation in Haiti and ask for financial aid. This call was essential to me."

Beyond setting up satellite phones and internet connections at UN coordination centers, TSF teams also have been providing technical and telecommunications support for the UN's humanitarian affairs agency (OCHA) and children's agency (UNICEF) and for the Organization for Migration (IOM) as they manage the many temporary camps throughout the region.

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You can make an online donation to help the work of Télécoms Sans Frontières here.

Support for TSF's mission in Haiti is provided by the United Nations Foundation and Vodafone Foundation Technology Partnership.