Tag Archives: shelter

Rebuilding a country and a home

It has been nearly two and a half years since the earthquake that devastated much of the capital and surrounding areas.  Those 30 or so seconds caused so much damaged and affected so many families.  The work of healing and recovery continues, however we witnessed some of the progress in Port au Prince.  As we drove away from Toussaint Louverture International Airport, the car met smooth pavement as we turned onto one of the capital’s main roads that has been repaired.  Lining this road were solar powered street lights which show the way for drivers after sundown.

In Port au Prince, World Concern has been particularly involved the last couple years in rebuilding homes.  There has been a lot of criticism, some more valid than others, of the international community and Haitian government for failing (or not moving fast enough) to sufficiently house the estimated 1.5 million Haitians displaced by the quake.  For me, as a newcomer to the country, I was hoping on this trip to simply listen a lot and see what I could discover first hand about the challenges and successes.  The situation is far from simple and 1.5 million people is a lot of people.  It is impossible to fully understand the complexities surrounding the recovery process in one short week, however I was grateful for the time we did have to meet individuals affected by the quake and hear from our staff about World Concern’s role in providing a home for families.

We met Lucmireille, a 34 year old mother of two.  Her temporary shelter sits on top of a small nub of a hill at the end of a curvy gravel road.  Our jeep worked hard to get up the steep road and I thought of Lucmireille and her neighbors who make that hike on foot.  Although some major roads in the capital are well paved, small neighborhood streets like Lucmireille’s remain rocky.  As we approached her home, I noticed the view.  The hill provides a nice, wide view of the city below.  Port au Prince Bay seemed close and the hot sun gave its’ water a blue tint.  There were several moments during our week in Haiti, like this one outside Lucmireille’s home, where I stopped long enough to admire the beauty of the place.  I’m glad I did.

Like many others, Lucmireille and her family fled to the countryside following the earthquake.  The countryside provided safety and peace from the chaos of the capital.  Life was hard though, as resources outside the city are often more limited.  So her family returned to Port au Prince, even though they knew they could not afford to rebuild their home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the summer of 2011, the World Concern staff met Lucmireille and soon her home was rebuilt.  “We now have better security, since the shelter was built,” says Lucmireille.

 

She went on to say, “If you don’t have a house, you have to do whatever you can for yourself.”  Although Lucmireille continues to face challenges, she is thankful for the shelter and is happy that her oldest child is in school.

 

When you think about the quake and the devastation as a whole, and of the millions of Haitians affected, you get overwhelmed.  Meeting Lucmireille showed me that although life is not easy, there are small victories that deserve to be recognized and celebrated.  I hope you too can celebrate the fact that Lucmireille has a place to call home and be encouraged that although not immediate, change is happening.

Haiti Day 1 – A Place to Call Home

Today we arrived in Haiti.  According to our pilot, visibility was eight miles and I believed him.  As the plane fell closer and closer to earth you could see the sprawling city of Port-au-Prince, beginning near the sea and extending all the way up the mountains which surround it.  The first thing you notice upon stepping out of the airport is the heat.  Not simply the temperature, but how the warmth surrounds you and falls upon your skin. 

Our group is seven in total, including Martha and I.  We immediately went to the World Concern office here in Port-Au-Prince and said hello to our colleagues and friends.  Since beginning this journey with World Concern, Martha and I have felt as though we are part of a family.  This feeling was affirmed as our Haitian brothers and sisters warmly welcomed us today.  After greetings and a tour of the formidable three story office building, we headed out to meet some families in the city who have had houses rebuilt with the help of World Concern.

This was a truly humbling afternoon.

We met Elias & Louis whose house was completely destroyed by the earthquake in January 2010.  They, along with their seven children, were suddenly homeless.  This family, which numbers twelve in all, found themselves hopping around from one temporary living situation to the other.  After nearly a year and a half of being on the move, World Concern helped Elias & Louis rebuild their home on the small piece of land where their former home was.  They and their family could finally return home.  Elias explained that since receiving their new home, his family’s situation has greatly improved compared to what it was like shortly after the earthquake.

Wow.  Life is not perfect for Elias and his family but he is the first to acknowledge that God has protected his family. 

We enjoyed the few moments we had with Elias & Louis so much.  This couple, along with the World Concern Haiti staff, has already showed us the beauty and resilience of the Haitian people we have read so much about.   At the end of our first day in Haiti we are exhausted but so thankful to be here.