When we first announced our Haiti initiative, our long-time friend and counselor, Edgar Stoesz, wrote to urge caution.Edgar has a long history with Haiti and knows first hand the challenges of working there.He counseled us to move deliberately, to engage local partners carefully, to assure that Haitians were at the forefront of the effort, and, above all, to be patient.As we had no prior experience in Haiti we listened carefully to Edgar’s advice.This has been a little frustrating to some of our supporters, who are anxious–as are we–to get houses built.But it’s paying off and we are now on the ground, working with solid partners, and starting construction.
We’ve had two work teams travel to Haiti over the past couple of weeks—brave souls who were willing to test the systems.The first crew, from Indianapolis, raised the first duplex at Saintard (to the northwest of Port-au-Prince) and helped lay the foundation for a second.Then a group from the Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va., traveled to Leogane to begin in-fill work on a house there.ASBC has a relationship with the Lott Carey Baptist Church, one of our partners in Leogane.
This is exciting news.With the success of these two work teams and the great prep work done by Haiti Director Billy Ponko and our good friend Frank Purvis, we are ready to go.We will now be able to build on an ongoing basis at both sites and invite those who have shown interest in volunteering to check the Haiti page: www.fullercenter.org/haiti for updates.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that US based relief agencies have received $1.3 billion in aid for earthquake survivors, a remarkable amount.Some of that money has gone to immediate relief efforts—food, medicine, temporary shelter.To date little has gone into permanent housing, which is our mission.The earthquake took 230,000 lives and destroyed 250,000 homes.Estimates are that some 1.6 million people are now living in tents and makeshift shelter, that’s 320,000 families that need a decent place to live.
The FullerCenter is eager to do its part.We surely won’t solve the entire problem, but we will help lead the way.Our approach is to build simple, decent houses that are earthquake, hurricane and fire resistant, houses the provide a clean and safe place for families to make homes in.The houses will be small by American standards, and pretty basic, but for a family that has been living in a pup tent for six months they will be little palaces.
We are so grateful to the many donors who have stepped forward to sponsor houses in Haiti.The outpouring of kindness has touched our hearts.Thanks too to the many who have signed up for Global Builders Work Teams—we’ll be contacting you soon about scheduling trips.