As you know if you’ve been reading our previous blogs, we began an ambitious home rebuilding project after the hurricane, to help people in the area around our clinic rebuild their destroyed or badly damaged houses. In the first stage of this project, we had our Community Coordinator, Gemi Baptiste, visit over 700 homes in communities closest to the clinic site to see how many of them were in need of repair and rebuilding. The criteria for choosing homes to rebuild were simple: the house needed to be severely damaged or destroyed, the land needed to be owned by the homeowner, not rented, and they needed to be willing to build their own house if they were given tin, nails and cement. Furthermore, they needed to be willing to be photographed in front of their house, both before and after the building process. 500 homes were chosen for rebuilding and, over the past two weeks, 10,000 sheets of tin, over 3000 pounds of nails and 300 sacks of cement have been distributed to the homeowners.
Here are photos of the rebuilding supplies distribution process:
The tin sheets were carried from the storage depot out into the clinic yard, counted and set in piles.
Several piles of tin ready for distribution.
Crowd of people waiting for tin and nails.
The tin is wrapped in packs of 10 or 15 and secured with wire for support.
Each recipient had their photo taken as they stood by the supplies they received. Some only took tin and nails and will wait until they are further along in the building process to get their cement. Others took all three – tin, nails and cement.
Woman poses with tin and nails she received.
This man received tin, nails and cement.
There were various methods of transporting the tin and cement back to their homes. Some carried it on their heads, others paid motorcycle drivers to transport it and others used mules and donkeys to get the precious cargo home.
Transporting tin on his head.
Loading cement sacks onto a motorcycle.
Two packs of tin loaded onto a donkey.
We were discussing the progress of the project with Gemi and he said that people are very motivated to get the frames of their houses built so they can receive the tin for the roof. In fact, they are actually helping one another with the framing and with nailing the tin in place. He says groups of men are going from one house to another to help one another rebuild. For those of you who know Haiti, you know that collaboration is not a strong part of the Haitian culture. In this small project that grew out of a huge need we saw in the communities we serve, we are finding two aspects of true community development. First, the Haitians are building their homes themselves. They’re using the design of their choosing, the size of their choosing and the materials they have available. We’re coming alongside them to help them, but they have taken responsibility for their own homes, effectively rebuilding not only their houses but also their lives. Since they’re doing the building themselves, they have complete ownership of it and the house is their home, their dwelling, their possession. We are assistants in the process, not directors. It’s a Haitian project, not an American one and they are proud of it.
Secondly, and this came as a total surprise to me, they are helping one another in the rebuilding process. This is an amazing, empowering, positive unintended consequence of what we started. Neighbors helping neighbors, young helping old, skilled helping unskilled, in a true spirit of progress. That’s unusual in Haiti and we are thrilled to see it. We’re praying that this spirit of cooperation and collaboration will permeate their communities and become a new way of living for them. Cherlie preaches this message of service to the patients in our clinic every day, but now we’re seeing it in action and it is truly gratifying.
We give thanks to our very generous donors who have allowed us the privilege of serving these communities in their time of need after the hurricane. Once we’ve distributed all of the materials for this first stage of rebuilding, we will move on to communities further up in the mountains and give them the opportunity to participate in the rebuilding project.
Grateful recipient with his home-building supplies.
UPDATE ON HAITI'S POLITICAL SITUATION
We are back in Jérémie now and our clinic is open and busy. We’re staying up at the clinic site during the week, so as to avoid any demonstrations that might occur in town. There are no new developments with regard to the situation with Guy-Philippe, but there is a great deal of discussion about possible disqualifying information that is being disseminated about the newly elected presidential candidate Jovenel Moise. It remains to be seen as to whether he will be inaugurated as planned on February 7th. Until then, there is always the possibility of unrest as his supporters react to the negative news that is being spread about him. Political uncertainty is difficult for us, but it’s a common theme here, so we need to stay flexible, as do our potential visitors! As always, we appreciate your prayers for us and for our ministry.