When Jeff Cardwell landed in Haiti with a 32-person volunteer team, he was reminded of other developing countries like Guatemala and El Salvador. But when he got off the plane, things felt different.
“As soon as we left the airport the heat was intense, the smell was intense,” he said. “As we drove out you could see the damage of the earthquake. Piles of concrete have weeds growing through it in a way that looks like it’s been untouched.”
Then a local Haitian showed him around the city.
“We got about four minutes out of the city on the side of the mountain. As far as you could see there were tents,” he said. The driver told him 1.6 million Haitians are living in tents.
“The needs [in Haiti] are greater than any need I’ve seen in any of the developing nations I’ve been to,” Cardwell said.
The Fuller Center is building in two locations in Haiti—Saintard and Leogane.
Cardwell, who serves on the International Board of Directors for The Fuller Center, brought his team of experienced volunteers to Saintard to test the readiness of the project to host volunteers. The team returned to the U.S. mid-July. (View photos of the week here!)
Saintard is located northwest of Port-au-Prince. The Fuller Center is building there through a partnership with SMI–Sundouloi Ministries, Inc., whose director, Frank Williams, attends the same church as Cardwell in Indianapolis, Indiana.
SMI is a ministry working to improve life for Haitians by providing services like clean water, by maintaining orphanages, by providing medical and dental care and more.
With the help of Cardwell, The Fuller Center began arranging this project and partnership immediately following the January earthquake. Everyone involved is thrilled to see this project get off the ground, and do so smoothly.
“One of the lessons we’re learning in Haiti is patience,” David Snell, Fuller Center president, said. “It’s taken a while to get all of the pieces in place for our work there– land titles, customs, family selection. But we are now building and we’re among the first organizations to be providing permanent shelter.”
SMI owns land where The Fuller Center will build up to 120 homes. Cardwell’s group–who came down with his church, Grace Assembly of God in Indianapolis, Ind., and with his radio network for good, People Helping People–started the construction of the first two duplexes, which will house four families.
One family is already identified (see photo).
“This husband and wife have five children and they are staying in the makeshift home behind them with two relatives,” Williams said. He said at least nine people currently live in their home made of old pieces of metal with a few tarps for a roof.
SMI is set up with 10,000 acres from which they do their ministry and can successfully host volunteers. The Fuller Center is ready now to start sending more teams. Click here to propose a Global Builders trip.
“We appreciate all those who came and were able to participate in beginning the first few homes,” Williams said.
Cardwell encouraged anyone with two feet and a heartbeat to consider a trip.
“The only way we can make a difference is to build houses, one at a time,” he said. “If these people don’t get the relief, help that’s needed, I’m afraid you’re going to see an even bigger crisis.”
“We are grateful to our donors and volunteers who have been learning patience with us. Now, though, we will move forward with the important work of making decent housing a reality for the Haitian families who have suffered so much,” Snell said.
Learn more about The Fuller Center’s work in Haiti on our HAITI PAGE.
DONATE NOW to help sponsor a home in Haiti! (A Haiti house sponsorship is just $3,000)