Photo: Leno and Lunia lost their 8-year-old son when their home in Les Anglais was destroyed in the August 14, 2021, 7.2-magnitude earthquake. They are moving to Leno’s hometown of Pignon, where they are partnering to have a simple, decent and safe Fuller Center home to raise their 6-year-old daughter Luna. This is their temporary home in Pignon.
Families devastated by Haiti earthquake to get new start with Fuller Center homes in Pignon
PIGNON, Haiti — It was a deadly, devastating earthquake in January of 2010 that first brought The Fuller Center for Housing to Haiti. Most of the first 150 Fuller Center homes were built just east of bustling Port-au-Prince in Croix-des-Bouquets, while dozens more were built west of the capital, including the 56-home Lambi Village.
Among those who noticed The Fuller Center’s ability to get homes built in a country where others have struggled was Geral Joseph. A community leader in Pignon, Joseph believed that if The Fuller Center’s hand-up model of enlightened charity could thrive in the urban areas where well-meaning handouts had exacerbated poverty conditions through the decades that if certainly would work well in Pignon, a more rural area with a less volatile recent history. With respected health care facilities, a commitment to education and its own electric grid and cooperative, Pignon proved to be an excellent partner for The Fuller Center’s ministry.
More than 100 homes — and counting — later, Pignon is thriving. In fact, not only are homeowners embracing the opportunity to partner in building simple, decent homes, but they are eager to repay the costs on terms they can afford with those repayments going to help others in Pignon get the very same hand-up.
Haiti now is dealing with the aftermath of yet another devastating earthquake in the southwest portion of the nation. Joseph rushed to the scene to see how he could help. Some of the families impacted by the earthquake in such areas as Les Anglais — including those who lost children — actually had ties to Pignon. He realized that he was best positioned to help families who wanted to relocate and start new lives far away from the earthquake zone — in Pignon.
After the earthquake, Fuller Center supporters began giving to support the home-building Joseph leads in Pignon. The gifts were meant to shine a light of hope in a nation in desperate need of it. Their gifts have provided a foundation for the start of construction on five homes for five families who are relocating to Pignon.
Among those families are Leno and Lunia and their 6-year-old daughter Luna. Joseph tears up as he explains how the quake struck while Leno was teaching at a local school, prompting him to sprint home to his family. Lunia and Luna were working in the family’s outdoor kitchen when the quake hit. Their 8-year-old son was inside the home. He did not survive.
Leno used to take his family to Pignon once a year to show them his hometown. Now, they are going home for good.
Roseta also is moving to Pignon from Les Anglais because of the earthquake, which killed her daughter and stepson. She will be raising her three grandchildren in a new, safe Fuller Center home. Joseph said smiles have been hard to come by, yet he managed to elicit the most beautiful smiles from this heartbroken family to share with Fuller Center supporters.
Like Leno, Roseta was born and raised in Pignon.
“She decided to come back to Pignon after 25 years,” Joseph said. “It was not easy for us to get them to smile, but when we let them know that The Fuller Center is ready to get them a piece of land in Pignon — where their grandmother was born — they were eager and ready for that change.”
The work and new hope being established in Pignon reminds Fuller Center for Housing President David Snell how this affordable housing ministry first began building homes back in 2005.
“The Fuller Center’s house-building efforts began in Shreveport, Louisiana, working with families who had fled Katrina’s devastation in the New Orleans area,” he said. “It was a creative response to a tragedy — building with families whose lives had been upended and who were looking for a safer place to live.
“It’s a model we’re reprising in Haiti, where we will be building with families who are fleeing the devastation of the recent earthquake to make a new home in the relative safety of Pignon. They should do well there — all of the houses we build after the 2021 quake in Lambi and Croix-des-Bouquest are standing — houses that were’ built with great hands and great hearts,'” echoing words in a report from a friend, Jonny Jeune, on the ground in the Lambi area.