Rebuilding in Haiti: An uneven record of success – Standard-Times

The family of four lived in a mud hut for 25 years. When it rained, water would come pouring through a hole in the dwelling.
“They tried to plug the hole with a large rock, but the water kept coming in,” said Richard Green, who was among the first persons to join Ezra Vision Ministries.
With the help of public donations Ezra Vision was able to build the family a sturdy new home made of concrete and wood in Chambrum, another refugee community near Onaville. Fortunately, the family owned a ¼-acre of land where the house could be built.
Construction of the house took two years because Ezra Vision officials had to navigate the politics and bureaucracy of the Haitian government. They also had to negotiate with local businesses to purchase the supplies need to build the new house, which includes indoor plumbing, a luxury in impoverished areas of the country.
“It takes a while to build anything in Haiti, depending on who you know and how willing they are to work with you,” Green said.
It was in impoverished communities like Chambrum and the capital city, Port Au Prince, that the 2010 earthquake did its greatest damage. The poor in Haiti cannot afford building materials that would make sturdy homes, said Ronnie Hawkins, director of Ezra Vision ministries.
There have been several efforts to provide Haitians new homes, Hawkins said, and although many of those efforts might have been well-intended, they were not very well thought out.
For example, after the earthquake, the U.S. government sent tents for people to live in, Hawkins said. It also sent wood burning stoves, but most Haitians were not familiar with their operation. Thousands of Haitians were killed or severely injured because they used the stoves inside the tents, which quickly ignited.
Other organizations tried to build quick and inexpensive houses but the cheap materials did not stand up to the intense heat and blowing sands in Haiti and have started crumbling after only a few years.
The government and other entrepreneurs have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars building brightly colored apartment complexes, which sit mostly empty because the poorest Haitians cannot afford to rent them.


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