If you have the opportunity to work alongside or talk with Haitians, one thing becomes immediately clear: they are not looking for a handout. They are willing to work hard but simply need supplies and funds to begin or finish rebuilding their homes, businesses and lives.
The Presbyterian Haiti Response Team (see box) is working to equip Haitians so they can rebuild. Léogâne is a small town that was at the epicenter of the 2010 earthquake. It’s just 20 miles west of Port-au-Prince, and nearly every home and business in the town was destroyed or damaged.
The HRT has approved $600,000 for building hundreds of homes in the area through our partner in Haiti, the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee. CRWRC provides not only homes for Haitians but also a livelihood through work-for-cash programs.
A new team for response
The Presbyterian Haiti Response Team was formed to ensure the more than $11 million donated by Presbyterians was used to fund sustainable projects for the most marginalized while working with Haitians and our longtime partners.
The team is comprised of:
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance
Presbyterian Hunger Program
Presbyterian World Mission
“There are 11 work crews in the community clearing rubble and building homes right now,” Ing Gerome Rothchild, head of one construction site, said through a translator. “People wait for their chance to work on the homes and the crews are rotated every 10 to 14 days so everyone has a chance to earn money.”
Marie was working at the site the HRT visited in mid-2011. Not only has she earned money for her family, she also recently benefitted from the housing program.
Marie lost her home in the quake and was left to care for her children, a grandchild and an orphaned child she took in following the disaster. For months, they lived in a tent. She helped build the home in which she and her family now lives.
“Having a home is like a holiday or a birthday. I don’t have to worry about where to sleep. I don’t have to worry about what’s over my head,” she told us through a translator.
Also in Léogâne, funding was provided to repair damages at both Holy Cross Hospital and “Faculty of Nursing Science of the Episcopal University of Haiti” which is the only nursing school in the area. Both were the hospital and school were made possible through Presbyterian World Mission’s longtime partnership with the Medical Benevolence Foundation.
Further North, the Farmers Movement of Papaye, a farmers’ coalition better known as MPP, was able to establish seed programs that not only helped feed people in the short term but addressed long-term problems. MPP is a longtime partner of Presbyterian World Mission, and mission co-worker Mark Hare has been working with MPP since 2004 to improve farming practices.
More than 10,000 families received indigenous seeds and tools purchased locally with your donations. Buying locally helped ensure the seeds would reproduce again. In addition, the seeds and tools helped Haitians feed themselves and thousands of displaced people while stimulating the economy for the long term.
“With the seeds MPP gave us, we’re able to do more with our land,” Clemancia Phillipe, a Haitian farmer, said. “So I can feed my family when they’re hungry and also send them to the doctor when they are sick. And we’re able to save seeds in the silo, so when we need extra money, we can sell that seed.”
The HRT has also approved $652,715 to build four eco-villages in and around the agricultural plateau through a program established by MPP. The eco-villages mean housing for people displaced by the earthquake and will provide an area for community and livelihood because they are based in an agricultural setting. Those who will live in the villages must help build the homes and other buildings and must cultivate their own crops, which can both feed their families and provide income.
Not to forget some of the most marginalized, the HRT is releasing $530,880 to fully fund a Church World Service initiative that focuses on empowering people with disabilities in Port-au-Prince. Church World Service is also a longtime partner of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Coordinate your mission trips through GAMC
To connect with mission co-workers in Haiti, go to www.pcusa.org/haiti and click on “find a mission co-worker”
This initiative provides livelihood support in the form of capital to start a small business, business management training and scholarships for attending vocational schools. It also provides psychosocial support and outreach to churches and religious community to encourage integration of people with disabilities.
Several members of the HRT visited business owners who had already received funding through this program. They witnessed those with disabilities supporting themselves through their now thriving businesses as well as employing other Haitians.
Each of these programs is designed to go beyond providing short-term aid to equipping Haitians so they can build better lives on the other side of disaster. Learn more about the General Assembly Mission Council's work in Haiti or donate now.