Loueze Berlien proudly shows visitors around her one-room 12-by-12-foot transitional shelter she received from World Concern. It’s simple, she admits, but it’s much safer and far more comfortable than the tent on her cousin’s property she’s been living in since the earthquake.
She was pregnant when the earthquake destroyed her house. She escaped with only minor injuries from falling debris, but her husband Patrick did not survive.
“It was difficult. I didn’t have anything. What was I supposed to do?” said Loueze. “I saved some blocks from my old house, thinking I might be able to construct something with them, but I couldn’t build something I could sleep in.”
Loueze was grateful when she learned she would receive a shelter from World Concern. “It was a way to restart my life,” she said. Now, she and her baby have a place to call home.
The cinder blocks she saved now fortify the entrance to her new house. She has hung curtains and decorations inside, and framed pictures of family are displayed on her night stand. But the most important thing about being here is a feeling of stability. “I no longer have issues with security,” said Loueze. “I am able to sleep at night. I can live here with my baby. I’m no longer afraid. I no longer have sadness.”
The initial recovery that takes place in the months following a disaster is often dramatic. Although the progress in Haiti since the devastating earthquake two years ago has been challenging, it is, nonetheless, remarkable.
1.5 million people were left homeless in a country with an already strained infrastructure. 250,00 homes were destroyed. Two years later, a million of those who were homeless have been housed. And five million cubic meters of debris have been cleared from narrow streets – most impassible by vehicles.
Immediately following the earthquake, people needed tools to survive – water, food, first aid, shelter. Having worked in Haiti for more than 30 years, and with a warehouse full of emergency supplies, World Concern was able to help save lives by meeting these immediate needs.
We put people to work, clearing rubble, and paid them cash so they could feed their families. Business owners received grants to buy equipment and inventory to restart their businesses.
And we built and repaired homes – more than 3,000 of them – like the one Loueze is living in now.
There’s still a long road ahead for the people of Haiti, but they are resilient. Despair and shock have turned into hard work and hope. The economy is improving. A million of those who were homeless are now in shelters. And new homes are safer.
Aid organizations are shifting their focus to preventing another catastrophic disaster. There’s no doubt, Haiti is building back better.
To learn more, visit www.worldconcern.org/haiti