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In August 2021, a devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the southern region of Haiti resulting in injuries to over 12,000 individuals and extensive damage to approximately 137,500 structures. In response to this crisis, Habitat for Humanity Haiti, in collaboration with our partner UMCOR, took initiative to assist survivors by providing earthquake relief with sturdy, disaster-resilient homes to the most vulnerable families.

After implementing a transparent selection process, 18 families were nominated by the local community and subsequently identified as recipients for new housing units. These families, many of whom had lost their homes or sources of income during the catastrophic event, were residing in inadequate makeshift shelters constructed from materials like sheet metal, wood planks, or latanier (similar to straw). These shelters were susceptible to leakage in rainy seasons and prone to collapse during hurricanes, a common occurrence in the hurricane and earthquake-prone southern regions of Haiti, requiring continuous rebuilding efforts and leaving families in a perpetual state of uncertainty.

Habitat Haiti employed its established hurricane and earthquake resilient construction techniques to erect all 18 homes, ensuring durability and safety for the inhabitants. Habitat Haiti also provided training to 120 new masons, equipping them with essential skills in proper construction practices. This not only empowered these individuals to contribute effectively to future housing projects but also fostered self-sufficiency within the community, aiding in long-term sustainability beyond Habitat’s presence in the area.

Introducing Marceline: Empowered by Habitat’s Support

Meet Marceline, a resilient mother of 8 children, who tragically became widowed following the destructive earthquake of August 2021. Struggling with homelessness after being ousted from her own residence by her husband’s family, Marceline found refuge in a makeshift shelter constructed from sheet metal by her brother. However, the living conditions were far from adequate for her large family.

Thanks to the impactful collaboration between Habitat for Humanity and UMCOR (United Methodist Committee On Relief), Marceline’s story takes a positive turn. With their support, Marceline and her children now have a secure and stable place to call home, providing them with the safety and comfort they deserve. Your support can continue to transform lives like Marceline’s, offering hope, security, and dignity to those in need.

Marceline in front of her old house

Marceline, her mother, and her 8 children in front of her new home

Habitat for Humanity Haiti beneficiary Amerose makes the most of her parcel of land in Corail, a rural community several houses from Port-au-Prince. There, she grows corn, which she eats, and also uses to feed her chickens. Any excess she sells at the market. During a recent visit, she also showed us her pineapples, which were slowly growing on their bushes. During the summer seasons, she tells us the plentiful pineapples give off the most pleasant smell as they come in 3 to 4 in a bunch.

Amerose also makes cassava, a Haitian flatbread, which can take up to 5 days to prepare. First, she explains, you cultivate the grains, then you grind them and let them dry. Finally, you cook it. Cassava is often eaten in the morning with peanut butter or avocado. Our very own local version of avocado toast!

Amerose and her family moved into their new Habitat home last year as part of our Hurricane Matthew recovery program. When the hurricane destroyed their home, Amerose and her family sought refugee in a nearby church. Today, they are one of over 300 families in their community who have partnered with Habitat to build back stronger.

Yesterday, January 12, 2020 marked the tenth anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. As we look back on the past ten years, we remember those who were impacted and are grateful to the many individuals around the world who contributed to recovery efforts. Through our recovery program, Habitat for Humanity Haiti served over 50,000 families. Our work included distributing emergency shelter kits, constructing transitional and upgradeable shelters, providing home damage assessments and repairs, and training individuals in construction.

Together with President and Mrs. Carter, volunteers and beneficiaries also built 300 homes through the Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter Work Project in 2011 and 2012. In 2018, we visited the Santo community to see how the families were doing. You can read more about this visit here.

Over the last ten years, great improvements have been made. However, even before the earthquake, housing in Haiti was a challenge. The Haitian government’s original action plan recognized the recovery will be a 20-30 year process. Our work in Haiti is far from over.

We remain committed to helping more Haitian families move into safe, permanent homes. We will continue to focus our long-term efforts on land tenure reform, training, capacity building and community rebuilding. This includes efforts such as:

  • The Leveraging Land in Haiti project launched in 2019. This four-year project will support 12,000 families through the complicated land tenure process to secure a formal land title.
  • Our ongoing response to natural disasters, including Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and the 5.9 magnitude earthquake which struck the north in 2018. In these communities, we have built over 300 new homes and repaired 1,500 homes.
  • Continued construction training. We have equipped over 600 masons with simple and effective ways to strengthening their local building techniques. Many communities in Haiti have used the same construction techniques for generations. We believe improving these existing methods, instead of implementing new ones, ensures the methods will be adopted by the community.
  • Disaster-risk reduction programs, which help communities to identify and reduce their vulnerability to disasters. To date, we have sensitized over 5,000 households on safe construction.
  • New partnerships with universities and the private sector to develop alternative construction materials and financial inclusion methods. Ultimately, we will work to provide better, more affordable access to quality materials for low-income families.

Whether you have followed along for the past ten years or are joining us now, we are grateful for your investment in Haitian families. We remain more committed than ever in building a world where everyone has a decent place to live.

Everyone deserves a decent place to live.