We all have places we’d rather avoid – things we’d rather not look at: the attic filled with rubbish that needs to be purged, that far corner of the yard that’s overgrown with weeds, or the part of the city that makes us cringe, where society’s outcasts sleep on benches.
In Haiti, entire neighborhoods have been left virtually untouched since the earthquake five months ago.
World Concern is now expanding its humanitarian reach into Fort National – one of the hardest hit neighborhoods during the quake – to begin rebuilding and repairing homes. It is one of those neighborhoods yet to see significant aid.
The rubble in this area has been a virtual tomb for hundreds of bodies. As we’re uncovering debris, we see Haitian workers overcome with the sights and smells. Our disaster relief director, Merry Fitzpatrick, says, “they appear almost drunk” as they stagger from the stench.
The pain is far from over here, but we see the importance of moving into the Fort National community. As we make progress, those in homeless camps can return home.
We’ve already helped more than 300 families move back into their newly repaired homes in the nearby Delmas neighborhood. In the meantime, 500 kit homes have arrived in Haiti – and assembly begins in the coming days. After that, we plan to build an additional 500 homes with local materials. Neighbors are working side by side to rebuild their own neighborhoods, providing a sense of tangible recovery.
“Leaders are stepping up into their roles and communities are banding together,” Merry says. “There is evidence of hope all around.”
Yet with all of this progress, the dark cloud of hurricane season looms on the horizon. Haiti was spared from major hurricanes last season, but forecasters, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, have predicted a highly active season, which officially began on June 1.
Several major Category 3 or above storms are predicted before the end of hurricane season in November. Nature has created a deadline of its own for our disaster relief experts to move earthquake victims out from under tarps and into or back into homes before hurricane season peaks in August and September.
We are confident, with your help, we can beat this storm season and make sure as many vulnerable families are safe in homes this summer. We won’t seek to avoid this – but instead – take it head on.