Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with an estimated 80% of the population living below the poverty line and 54% living in abject poverty (2003 estimates, cia.gov).
In 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake destroyed over 100,000 homes, collapsing or damaging an additional 188,000, and leaving over 2 millions people displaced. Many tent camps were later replaced by T-Shelters, temporary wooden shelters meant to provide relief quickly until safer, permanent housing could be constructed. However, many people still live in T-Shelters, in addition to the shanty towns where people have pieced together makeshift homes out of scraps of tin, garbage, and whatever is available. See our blog post on housing in Haiti for a more in-depth look at the current situation.
Since the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, we've built over 70 homes in Croix-des-Bouquets. As you read the stories below, please consider getting more involved, either through volunteering or donating. An earthquake resistant, concrete home in Haiti costs only $5,000 and takes about 1 and 1/2 weeks to build. We need people like you to help displaced Haitians leave their tents and finally have a decent place to call home.
In 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti. The aftermath was devastating: over 300,000 people were killed and another 1.5 million were left homeless. It was the worst earthquake in the region in the last 200 years, and it left a wake of destruction in a nation ill-equipped to respond.
Through help from actor, Sean Penn, we were able to receive security clearance from the U.S. State Department to fly into Haiti just days after the initial earthquake. Executive Director, Michael Bonderer, and board member, Rob Beckham, toured the damage and began to figure out how to get the equipment, tools, and manpower necessary to begin helping. Just weeks after the earthquake, they started working on the Saint Ambrose School partnering with Artists for Peace and Justice, and not too long afterward, Saint Ambrose was the first damaged school to be reopened after the earthquake. Initial efforts involved responding to many other needs as well, such as clearing roads, helping people find medical attention, and cleaning up the debris from destroyed buildings.
Our current efforts focus on Croix-des-Bouquets, a region 8 miles Northeast of Port-au-Prince where people were sent to live in tent camps after the earthquake. Initial disaster response efforts to basic needs, such as food, water, and medical attention are vital, but what is often forgotten is the long-term support necessary to rebuild. Years after a natural disaster, the temporary shelter provided by rescue workers too easily becomes permanent slums if not replaced with adequate housing.
Homes from the Heart seeks to address these long-term needs, building permanent homes to replace temporary housing, tents, and shanties where hundreds of thousands of displaced families still reside. To date, we’ve built over 100 homes within the community, and we continue to build as quickly as funds and manpower allow.