Nelson Elissier and Michelle Azor built their house brick by brick. They didn’t have much money, but every time they got a little, they bought building materials for their house. It took four years to complete their home, but just six months after they had finished, the earthquake destroyed what they had worked for.
Their story is similar to that of many others in Haiti, where poverty means that people have to work very hard to build a house for their families.
Many people slept outside their houses when the earthquake hit. They wanted to protect their possessions and stay in a place they knew when all around them was uncertain.
“We never considered leaving our house to go and live in a camp,” said Mr Elissier. “We stayed here because it’s our home. Leaving would have meant losing everything.
Caritas Austria’s reconstruction project in Fort Hugo in the district of Morne à Bateau has been devised so that people rebuild near their destroyed homes.
They will build 500 houses over the next couple of years following a pilot project to build seven homes for families in Fort Hugo.
While the homes are being built on the plot of land where their original house was destroyed, the families live next to it in a temporary shelter. They are also involved in clearing away the rubble of their original house and in building their new one.
The new houses have been built so they will be resistant to earthquakes, floods and hurricanes.
Caritas Austria is also helping those who have lost their houses through farming and cash-for-work projects. This is aimed at helping people take control of their lives and avoid falling into extreme poverty in the aftermath of the earthquake.
In the long-term Caritas Austria will focus on education, agriculture, livelihoods, disaster risk reduction and building homes.