“If my kids weren’t playing in the yard,
they would’ve been killed. I was running towards them as the house collapsed. The dust
got in my eyes and I couldn’t see anything. [Yvette Vertilius – Leogane, Haiti]
“When I was running, it felt as if I was flying. I felt as if my soul was out of my
body. I was terrified that I might have lost my children.”
The magnitude 7.0 earthquake that devastated Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010, damaged or destroyed
nearly 190,000 homes, leaving 1.5 million in need of shelter. Displaced families crowd
into urban tent cities, survive in their own makeshift shelters or seek refuge in other
parts of the country. [Claude Jeudy – National Director Habitat
for Humanity Haiti] “We are not familiar with earthquakes in
Haiti. The last one was 240 years ago. No one knew that was going to happen on that
day. The population was not prepared for that.” Two years later, more than a half million
people remain homeless, many of them living in dilapidated and unsafe shelters made of
tarps, sheets, or any salvageable material pulled from the ruins or debris-choked ravines.
For 27 years, Habitat for Humanity has worked in Haiti, providing more than 2,000 Haitian
families with housing solutions. In response to the 2010 earthquake, Habitat has expanded
our efforts. [Jonathan Reckford – President & CEO – Habitat
for Humanity International] “We see this as an opportunity and certainly
a huge need, so we’re committed not just for this immediate response but to building
alongside the Haitian people for the long term.”
Working with partners, Habitat has assembled and distributed more than 24,500 emergency
shelter kits. We have also established four Habitat Resource Centers to provide access
to a range of services, including assistance in securing land.
Addressing Haiti’s crippling unemployment, Habitat hires local citizens to rebuild their
communities from the ground up. This enables an organic recovery to take root.
Responding to the immediate housing need, Habitat provided temporary transitional solutions
with a focus on upgradeable housing, which can be modified into permanent homes. To date,
Habitat has provided more than 4,000 families with transitional or upgradeable shelter.
Though progress has been made, there are still an estimated 600,000 living in unsustainable
conditions. In Leogane, near the epicenter of the earthquake, thousands of families are
in desperate need of adequate shelter. “This tent is not comfortable at all. During
the day it is extremely hot; it is too hot for the children. Sometimes the heat gives
us headaches. During the night, it is so cold it feels like it is snowing in here.”
Yvette Vertilius lives in a small tent with her husband, their six children and two young
relatives orphaned by the earthquake. “There is a lot of trash outside, and even
human waste. It is not healthy for my children. I would thank God if I could find a new home
for my family. We would be healthier and finally have peace of mind.”
Habitat for Humanity works with those in need to provide safe, secure and affordable homes.
This November, our partnership with President and Mrs. Carter continues, as the Carter Work
Project builds housing for those displaced by the 2010 earthquake.
Among the partner families is Yvette Vertilius. “I dream of living in a house where my kids
can grow up easily. I want my kids to be healthy, and I want a better life for my family.”
During the weeklong event, President and Mrs. Carter will join more than 500 volunteers
to build 100 homes in Leogane. Furthering our commitment to the people of Haiti, Habitat
and the Carters will return in 2012 for an additional work project.
“Everyone is waiting for Habitat. I would like to ask the donors to help Habitat, so
Habitat can help us.” More than 28,000 families have been served
by Habitat for Humanity’s efforts in Haiti. Our goal is to serve 50,000 families. To find
out how you can help, visit habitat.org.