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Newspaper's appeal fund boosts Haiti relief effort

A reporter who spearheaded a press campaign to boost a local charity struggling in the recession has witnessed its work first hand in Haiti.

Derby Telegraph journalist Claire Duffin spent six days on the Caribbean island which has seen 200,000 deaths following the earthquake in the capital Port-au-Prince on 12 January.

In November, the Northcliffe daily launched ‘Give Water, Give Life’ in a bid to raise £138,000 for Aquabox, a Derbyshire-based charity which sends vital water purification kits to communities affected by poverty or natural disaster.

Due to the recession and the Indonesian earthquake in September, Aquabox had virtually run out of stock and was desperately appealing for more donations.

The Telegraph’s appeal fund now stands at over £200,000 with Claire filing news, features and pictures over five days this week detailing how its readers’ donations are being used in Haiti.

With the help of local translators and volunteers, she visited camps and schools to see the devastating effects and how people are coping two months on.

The 25-year-old told HTFP: “It was much worse than I imagined it would be and you can’t see the situation improving.

“There’s no money for them to rebuild their houses but even if there were, they’re too scared to do it in case another earthquake hits.

“It was an interesting and very eye-opening experience. I don’t think I was prepared for how bad the situation was still, but it was a fantastic experience all the same and encouraging seeing the great work the different aid organisations are doing out there.”

Aquabox is run by the Rotary Club of Wirksworth which financed the trip and flights for Claire.

While in Haiti, she was accommodated by and worked closely with Canadian aid organisation Humanity First.

Telegraph deputy editor Neil White added: “Aquaboxes can be the difference between life and death to those desperate for clean water in a disaster zone.

“They have been distributed throughout the world from Derbyshire for years but the charity was running out of funds and that is why we started our campaign.

“Sending a reporter to Haiti gave us the opportunity to show our readers first hand the devastation caused by the earthquake and the considerable impact Aquaboxes, that they have paid for, are having.

“Hopefully, these heartbreaking stories will prompt them into giving even more.”

  • Claire (left) with Humanity First workers and a Haitian volunteer (seated)