Haiti Mon Amour, Shelter is Key.


One month after the earthquake  more than 1.1 million people are in need of shelter. Adequate shelter is vital to improving the health, safety and well-being of people who do not have a home to protect their family and their belongings. Families have organized tent cities and encampments on their own to survive. But Haitians need help to rebuild more permanent  structures and lives. Camps and collective centres are very rarely an appropriate solution following natural disaster . Proactive steps should be taken to avoid the establishment of camps where safe and appropriate

The Disaster Response arm of the U.N says:

Security is frequently an important issue in the wake of natural disasters because of the disruption that disasters cause to community structures,including police and other security services. In displaced persons camps,persons traumatized by their own  experiences may frequently find themselves living in crowded, unsanitary conditions where food andother necessities may be scarce and tensions run high or, where food and other items are made available with inadequate protection against the diversion of aid or exploitation by those distributing it.

 Shelter is an immediate need. The rains are coming. 

Families need supplies and help to make immediate repairs and constructing temporary shelter.  Most families would prefer to stay close to their homes to discourage looting, maintain their sources of employment  and  seek lost relatives, and help to support  friends and neighbors. 

Displaced women and children face a range of specific risks. They are extremely vulnerable  to sexual and gender-based violence, especially in camps, where the risks also include increased levels of domestic violence, child abuse and alcohol-related violence. When food is not delivered directly to women their vulnerability to sexual exploitation and abuse increases dramatically.

Building permanent shelter will not be easy for many reasons:

  • land rights uncertain because of a lack of records, loss or destruction of records, or damage to community-based land  governance systems
  •  uncertainty of land tenure may lead to disputes and delays in reconstruction, or to reconstruction in inappropriate   locations
  •  the deaths of land owners, and loss of land records (if any),  will occur in a much more compressed period of time in the   case of natural disasters

Those of you who know me, know that I believe in the trans formative power of service. That I love, love, love, LOVE seeing folks volunteer and have a  rewarding experience.  I spend my days and much of my 20 plus years encouraging and mobilizing volunteers.  I have gotten lots of questions from folks  wanting to know how soon can they get to Haiti to help. 

I am here to say this loud and clear…Haitians do not need volunteers, they need jobs.

 Anything that organizations would normally have volunteers do– they should be paying Haitians to do. Helping to build and economy and  independence for the Haitian people. Organizations on the ground should  mobilize local Haitian volunteer groups and provide them with tools to remove debris and salvage materials that can be recycled for new shelter. Cleanup work lets survivors help directly with recovery, contributing to their mental strength and emotional healing. Trust me friends volunteers will be necessary and appropriate to assist at a later date. Recovery will take years.

Did I mention the  rains are coming?

So I decided to support Habitat for Humanity in rebuilding Haiti and have set a goal to raise $2,500, the approximate cost to build the basis of a new home for someone there.

Please join me by donating to Habitat today.

This earthquake has drawn the world’s attention to a country that was already in desperate need.

Even before the quake, Haiti was the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. More than 80 percent of Haiti’s 9 million people lived on less than US$2 per day; 55 percent lived on less than US$1 per day. Political instability, food shortages, tropical storms and hurricanes had prevented most Haitians from breaking free of  poverty.  For Haitians to break free of poverty  all the strategies being developed by government, and NGO’s  must  be community based involving local people in the decision making process. Safe shelter is the first step to help  take families down the long road to recovery

 Please continue to keep the people of Haiti  in your thoughts and prayers. Also continue to honor their struggle with  finacial support. I made a promise to not leave the Haitian people stranded  and I mean to keep that promise.

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