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The Haitian earthquake: Looking back after 5 years

On the 12th of January 2010, Haiti was hit by an earthquake which measured 7.0 on the Richter scale, devastating the country. In the following days, it is estimated that 52 aftershocks took place, causing further damage and hindering the progress of aid workers.

On the day of the earthquake, the team at Ding noticed something unusual. The Ding screens (large screens in our Dublin HQ which show live transactions) suddenly lit up showing thousands of top-ups from across the US being sent to Haiti. At first we thought there was a software malfunction but it was quickly established that it was a real-time global reaction to the crisis in Haiti.

For relatives in Miami or New York who could not get through to their families back home in Haiti, Ding was the only way they could connect. By sending top-up through to the mobile phones of their family and friends, they were able to speak to them or message them to see if they were alive. In response to the crisis, we temporarily reduced our fees to try help our customers.

The Haitian earthquake was an important moment in the history of the company. It brought home to us the power of transferring top-up and connecting people, particularly in times of crisis. For our customers, top-up meant they could speak to friends and family, despite the breakdown of many communication channels. For aid workers, it allowed them to stay connected on the ground. For us, it was a real wake up call to the importance of what we are doing daily.

In December 2010, just a few short months after the earthquake, our CEO Mark visited Haiti to see the impact first hand. Shortly after his return he wrote about his experience: 'Just back from Port-au-Prince, Haiti… utter devastation and desolation everywhere. Life in Port-au-Prince continues on top of the fallen rubble. Makeshift stalls selling everything are positioned precariously close to the side of the road and up against constant log-jammed traffic together with thousands of Haitians on foot. It’s chaotic.’

5 years have passed since the earthquake and the people of Haiti are still rebuilding their lives. According to recent reports, over 85,000 Haitians continue to live in displaced people’s camps. 

The number of top-ups which our customers send to Haiti continues to grow, increasing by 95% last year with Haitians all over the world continuing to send support to loved ones back home.

To mark the anniversary, Ding has once again pledged its support to the Haven Partnership, who have worked tirelessly since 2010 to help re-build Haiti.

For more on Haven’s work you can visit www.havenpartnership.com

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