New housing for Haiti Earthquake survivors



"This house will last all our lives," said Enolia Pierre, as she jingled the keys to her new home. Pierre sells coffee along the dusty road that leads to Mellier, about an hour-and-a-half drive from Port-au-Prince. The home she shared there with three other adults and nine children was destroyed in the January 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti and stole, according to the United Nations, more than 217,000 lives. In all, 20 people in Mellier and 20 in the town of Carrefour, whose homes were irreparably damaged in the quake, will receive new houses.

"This house is strong enough to handle storms, earthquakes, and hurricanes. When you're in it, you know you're safe," Rev. Gesner Paul, president of Eglise Methodiste d'Haiti (EMH), told the beneficiaries. He and other church leaders present at the celebration thanked the UM Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and its donors for their financial support for the construction of the homes. They also
thanked UM Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) for material and volunteer support.

The project is a partnership among UMCOR, UMVIM, EMH, and the local communities. It benefits families whose homes were destroyed by the earthquake and who counted at least six family members living under a single roof. Including the housing projects in Mellier and Carrefour, EMH and UMCOR have completed four building projects this month.

On Sept. 9, EMH welcomed about a thousand participants to a joyous inaugural communion service at St. Martin's Methodist Church in Port-au-Prince. The two-story church, which also includes a primary school on its ground level, towers above the struggling neighborhood of which it is a part. The following morning representatives of EMH, UMCOR, and the Methodist Church of Great Britain, were at prayer again.

This time, they prayed for workers preparing to break ground for the long-awaited reconstruction of the church's flagship school, New College Bird, which serves some 900 students.

Progress in construction and reconstruction is only one part of the current moment in Haiti, which UMCOR's Melissa Crutchfield called "pivotal." Crutchfield is the organization's executive in charge of international disaster response and has been involved with UMCOR's response to the earthquake from the start.

"There is a shift now in Haiti, from the emergency-response phase to the long-term development phase," she said. She cited the conclusion of the most recent roundtable discussions, held Sept. 5-8 in Port-au-Prince, among EMH, UMCOR, UMVIM, and other Methodist partners.

In May of this year-two and a half years after the earthquake-capital plazas still were filled with families and individuals displaced by the ruin caused by the disaster; today, they are open for recreation. While some 390,000 Haitians continue to live in camps, nearly 75% of those who were displaced have found more secure housing.

Gifts to Advance #418325 (Haiti Emergency) will help UMCOR continue to walk with the Haitian people as they progress through recovery to development. -Linda Unger, UMCOR