Earthquake in Haiti – Looking back on 5 years of action

After the earthquake, the reconstruction of housing and infrastructure was one of the most obvious priorities in Haiti. Development and Peace based its reconstruction program on the creation of local wealth and the use of local resources, the search for sustainable solutions for and by the Haitian people, and on the inherent dignity of all human beings. In addition, the prevention of violence and the recognition of human rights were integrated at every stage. The most vulnerable, especially women and children, were always prioritized in the planning and implementation of projects.

The approach of Development and Peace and its partners is based on the reconstruction of the fabric of society, affirms Fr. Joseph of the Fondation haïtienne pour le relèvement et le développement:

“We don’t just offer a physical space for people; we try to develop a sense of belonging to the community, and provide services for families and children. We want people to find work, to have access to school, to a medical clinic, and to a large community centre,” he adds.

Development and Peace has notably contributed to the construction of a new campus for the Foyer Maurice-Sixto, a residence for children that have been placed into domestic servitude. These children, called restavèk, are placed in host families because their families are too poor to care for them. In their host families, they are tasked with housework, are often mistreated, and do not normally go to school. But at the Foyer Maurice-Sixto, they are considered full-fledged children. These new buildings, which replace the old premises destroyed by the earthquake, will shortly accommodate significantly more children than the previous building.

“I have a new school in Rivière-Froide, a very nice school. Next year, I will study in this new building. We will have much more space. It’s a beautiful place built just for us!” exclaimed Wislande, 16, a restavèk child since the age of seven who is now hosted at the Foyer Maurice-Sixto.

One of the most important rural housing projects put in place in Haiti was carried out by Development and Peace and its partner the Institut de technologie et d’animation (ITECA). This project consisted of the construction of 400 permanent houses in the commune of Gressier, an area severely impacted by the earthquake. The new houses are built according to earthquake and cyclone resistant standards, thanks to technology that enables quick construction of low-cost housing with local materials.

Families had already lived in this sector prior to the earthquake. Rather than moving to a temporary camp or uprooting themselves to an “artificial village,” they decided to stay and work together to rebuild their homes.

Micheline and Frantzé now live with their two children in their new home: “This house has allowed us to get out of the bad situation in which we had found ourselves for over three years now. Even if it rains, we can finally sleep like babies!”