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Habitat Haiti is implementing a multi-year WASH program in Simon Pele. Within this program, our team is working closely with local schools to bring hygiene promotion activities to Simon Pele’s youth. This year’s hygiene promotion efforts are targeting 2500 students in 14 schools throughout the community. Marc-Antoine is one of these students. We first met Marc-Antoine during a routine field visit. We ran into him on his way home from school and he stopped to sing a WASH song for our team. Marc-Antoine is 14 years-old and lives in Simon Pele with his extended family in a small two-bedroom home. He has lived in this community most of his life and loves to play soccer and basketball with his little brother, Mitelson, and their friends. We went back to visit with Marc-Antoine and asked him to tell us about his experience learning with our WASH team.

I really liked the games and songs we learned around WASH, who knew washing your hands was such a big deal? I mean we knew but the song really brought it home. At home we don’t have a latrine of our own. We use one close by in the community that many people in the neighborhood use it too. Now every time I use the restroom I wash my hands and I tell my little brother to do the same. With so many different people using the latrine, I know it’s important to help keep my hands clean so that I won’t get sick from the germs. When I got home, I also told my mom about making sure we were drinking clean water. At school they taught us about different ways to treat water, to make sure it stays clean. My mom laughed at me because I was talking really fast but then she said she was proud of me, for remembering every single detail. I think it’s great that someone in a whole other country is helping to make this program possible for me and my classmates. It helps me feel like God is really watching out for me and my friends and my family. God bless our friends abroad; may he keep them healthy and strong so that they can keep on helping my community. “—Marc-Antoine

This year our awareness campaign has reached 1574 students throughout 14 schools and we’re just getting started! Follow us on social media to get the latest on all of Habitat’s activities.

When hurricane Matthew struck Haiti last year it left 2.1 million people affected across 3 of Haiti’s southern departments. Some of the people having the hardest time bouncing back from hurricane Matthew are the elderly. With the help of our generous donors, Habitat recently rolled out shelter recovery kit distributions in 4 communal sections of the Nippes department. 440 beneficiaries over the age of 50 were served, each receiving a shelter recovery tool kit, 11 metal sheets, 10 bags of cement and 8 planks of wood and number of tools, to help rebuild or reinforce homes damaged by the hurricane.

Solange is 62, she lives in Petit Trou de Nippes with two of her five children and two grandchildren. In her younger days, Solange used to farm and work the fields to support her family. Unfortunately, with old age, Solange hasn’t been able to work for over 10 years. “We still plant on our property, there are mouths to feed and whenever possible we sell the rare surplus nearby or exchange with neighbors who plant different items. I am so thankful for these supplies. Our home was severely damaged by Matthew and we didn’t know where or who to turn to for help. The Lord works in mysterious ways, I was worrying about all of this and then a delegate came to tell us that help was on the way. Thank you, Habitat, god bless you and the people who all make this possible. These supplies are going to allow us to fix that roof and help give my grandchildren a dry place to sleep at night. We would return the favor if we could, but now we offer thanks and blessings.

Ricardo, 31, is a small-business owner in Simon Pele, where he was born and raised. He lives there with his wife and two children, Roodson (9yrs old) and Roodmia (5yrs old). “When you’ve got a wife and kids, you’ve got to manage taking care of them. That’s how decided I wanted to create my first business. I opened up a mini-bar, to sell refreshments and snacks to the community,” explains Ricardo. But things didn’t quite work out with Ricardo’s first business.

As time went on, competition in the area rose and Ricardo soon found himself up against a wall, the business was floating but not much was coming in: “The most frustrating part about the experience, was not being able to take care of my family, we got by, but I needed to find something else,” he shares. Then Ricardo heard about trainings being offered to residents in Simon Pele through the Investing in People and Business in Haiti program, implemented by Habitat in the area. He jumped at the chance to participate in a 5 days entrepreneurship training. During this training Ricardo learned how to create and manage a budget and the importance of doing a market study before opening a business.

Before taking this training, I just didn’t know how to run a business. “Once I complete the training, I understood right away why my previous ventures weren’t holding their own. I wasn’t managing my business’ cash flow correctly and had I done a market study, I would have quickly realized that in fact, there were already too many mini-bars in the area.”—Ricardo Toussaint

In the months following this training Ricardo Jean Toussaint started a frozen pop business. This new venture did so well that Ricardo was able use profits to start a second business refrigerating beverages and producing ice for his clients. But he didn’t stop there, after as his ventures continued to grow, Ricardo launched a 3rd activity, selling refrigeration equipment to individuals as well as other businesses. Just three months after the training Ricardo was able to purchase a used car to help transport his products and purchase raw materials he needs. Today, he is well on his way to financial stability and has plans to keep it that way. He is proud to be an active player in Simon Pele’s development as his ventures are helping him employ other members of the community and even further, to help others create their own ventures.

Since receiving this training, it’s just been one success after another for me. That just feels amazing. My business tripled within three months! I was able to buy a car, and today, not only can I take care of my family, I now have dreams of travelling and taking them on a wonderful vacation one day. But what makes me the proudest is the fact that I am contributing the development of this community. I can employ young people so that they can start learning to take care of themselves. All of this is thanks to this training. Thank you, Habitat, thank you to the Government of Canada and to all those who made this program possible.”—Ricardo Jean Toussaint

Everyone deserves a decent place to live.