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Haiti - new houses, new lives

More than two years after the magnitude 7.0 earthquake devastated the capital of Haiti, there are still hundreds of thousands of people living in tents and other temporary structures.

Christian Aid realised very early on that building permanent homes that were sturdy and earthquake resilient should be a priority for reconstruction and that allowed us to begin our building programme ahead of many other agencies.

Because Christian Aid had partners like Koral and GARR, who were already working in the countryside and as the Haitian government wanted to try to resettle people outside of the capital, our partners focussed their rebuilding programme in rural areas.

So far, Koral and GARR, plus new partner Haiti Survie, have helped communities to build 160 earthquake-resilient permanent homes in the countryside with 426 more either under construction or in the pipeline. These have allowed hundreds of people to restart their lives in a safer environment.


A new house for Marie

With her children, Marie Joseph fled Port-au-Prince after the earthquake. She tells the story of stepping over dead bodies to find refuge far from the city. For the first months following the disaster, she stayed in a tiny, hot shelter, made up of bed sheets and tarpaulin.

Marie JosephIn October last year Marie moved into a brand new, brick-built home, built for her by partner SSID. It has two bedrooms, a living room and kitchen and she lives there with her four daughters and one grandchild. She says: 'A year ago I was depending on other people’s help and living with another family. I felt really bad. But I’m a different person now.'

Cause to celebrate

With a bright red ribbon strung across the veranda, and red and white balloons tied to the top of the house, families celebrated the opening of their houses in the South East of Haiti at the end of 2011.

92 families received houses across seven communities in the region, each one brightly painted in pink and green. Partner Haiti Survie helped secure land from the mayor and built them their permanent homes.

Christian Aid programme officer Lucia Mbofana spoke to one of the community members at the inauguration ceremony. She said: 'This is a dream come true. I never thought l could own my own house, let alone have the paper to prove it'.

Christian Aid will be building 400 new houses in 2012 for families who lost their homes after the earthquake.

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