It is 9.00am on Wednesday 12 January and the press office is already buzzing with activity. The team are busy working away because today is the first anniversary of the Haiti earthquake so it is all hands on deck.
A number of weeks of hard work have been leading up to this moment. Katie Morrison, our dedicated Head of Media, has been at work since 7.30 this morning providing some amazing interviews for BBC Radio Manchester, BBC Radio Five Live and Sky Radio. Executive Director David Bull has also been interviewed for BBC Radio Oxford.
A girl fills a container with water at a hand-washing station in a child-friendly tent, in a camp in Place Boyer, a square in the Port-au-Prince municipality of Pétionville, in Haiti.
At 10.30 our team meeting takes place, top of the agenda is, of course, Haiti. The national newspapers are read thoroughly and the team feed back highlighting any stories relevant to UNICEF. There is a discussion about more possible story pitches for Haiti, a story has come to light about two young brothers who were orphaned and separated during the earthquake but by incredible chance found each other once again in a UNICEF children’s centre. It is these heart warming stories that come out of human tragedy that remind me why this is such an incredible organisation to work for.
Haiti itself has been an incredibly challenging emergency; getting the messages out about the exceptional work that has been done by UNICEF is difficult when so much of the coverage is focusing on the negative aspects and the scale of the task remaining. Our priority is to report back on the work that has taken place but also crucially to publically thank the thousands of people who made a donation and tell them how their money has been spent. To this end, the team has worked relentlessly in the weeks leading up to the anniversary, pitching in stories to both national and regional press. UNICEF staff have been on hand for interviews about the current situation, and journalists in the field have been sent to UNICEF projects to witness the incredible work being done. We’ve also had our eye on social media, with material being sourced to run on supportive 'Mummy Blogger' sites and work has also been put into creating a package that highlights many issues such as the sexual exploitation of children in Haiti and how we are working to prevent this. Even though the anniversary is today, Haiti is still a huge priority for UNICEF and we will be working there for many many more years to come to ensure that we reach the end of the long road to recovery.
Bettine, 13, and her friend do homework in a tent
in Acra, a displacement camp for quake victims, in the Juvenat
neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Working as an intern in the media team is a great way to find out about UNICEF’s projects. Haiti, one year on, has been a huge learning curve for me; to see how the team works on a project such as this has been a fantastic experience. The team has spent a long time pitching stories and sending resources to journalists at home and in the field in order to ensure that UNICEF’s work is reported in the media and that we can offer a voice of authority on critical matters such as children’s health and water and sanitation.
Today is a day for Haiti to look to the future, it is true that a great deal remains to be done and that many people continue to suffer, but what I have realised today is that UNICEF staff can be proud of what they have achieved in the midst of such devastation. And the public should be proud of the help they gave us to get there. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been saved due to the work of many different development organisations and campaigns such as UNICEF’s ‘All to School’, that aim to get 100 per cent of children in school, are currently reaching around 80 per cent of the children of Haiti, a phenomenal figure when considering the problems that continue to be faced.
Find out more:
Haiti Children's Crisis Appeal
Rebecca Sparling is the intern within the Media Team at UNICEF UK