During Haiti’s earthquake more than a million people lost their homes and the demand for emergency shelter was enormous. Cordaid (a Dutch member of the Caritas confederation) made it one of their long-term priorities to provide people with earthquake- and hurricane-proof housing.
Jeanna Garreaud’s life was turned upside down when the earthquake struck on 12th January 2010. The mother of Lovely, 14, and Anthony, 12, who lived in Port-au-Prince saw both her house and shop reduced to rubble in the disaster.
“I earned enough money to support my family. My husband was unemployed, so I had to make a living. But then my house and shop were completely destroyed in the earthquake. I had nothing,” she said.
In the immediate aftermath, Jeanna and her family slept in the streets. After a while, they managed to get hold of a tent, but they were still homeless and life was tough.
Cordaid made housing a priority of their rehabilitation programme following Haiti’s earthquake. Together with more than 8,000 Haitian families Cordaid has built and repaired 6,208 earthquake and cyclone-resistant houses in the three years since the disaster. This has provided more than 40,000 people with a safe home. Watch a video about CORDAID building homes in Haiti
The elderly and women with children were top of the list for housing. In the planning phase, Cordaid talked extensively with future residents about the type of homes they would like.
Jeanna was eager to re-open her shop so she could start to earn enough money to support her family. She told Cordaid that she’d like her house adapted so she could sell things from it.
“I had the porch closed and put a window in and this created my small shop,” she said.
Cordaid says that involving the community in their work is important to ensuring that what they build is in line with Haitian style and tradition. Beyond building houses, the organisation has been investing in improving Haitian lives in general ever since the earthquake struck.
In the months after the emergency it distributed food to over 260,000 people in areas outside Port-au-Prince, it provided almost 1000 people with medical assistance and performed operations and also installed water purification systems and provided water tanks.
Their long-term commitment means that Jeanna Garreaud not only has a new home but can also support her family, giving her children, Lovely and Anthony, the chance to have an education and providing them with a secure future.
“My friends and family have helped me with goods I could sell so I could make a new start,” says Jeanna. “Luckily my customers are loyal to me, so I have enough business. Now I earn enough for my kids to go to school. They both want to keep on learning. Lovely wants to be an engineer, Anthony a tourist guide. I am delighted with my new home and shop. I feel safe again.”