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Haiti’s lesson for us all

 

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Learn more about the Haiti earthquake and Habitat’s recovery program.

 


By Mark Andrews, Habitat for Humanity International’s vice president for Haiti recovery

It’s hard to believe that it’s been two years since that awful day. I wasn’t in Haiti. In fact, I’d never been. But I remember the first news flashes from Port-au-Prince, and I remember where I was and what I thought. Never did I imagine that I would spend 18 months of my life focused entirely on the aftermath of that one horrendous day.

Like almost everyone who has ventured to Haiti since the earthquake, I was overwhelmed by the rubble, by the poverty, by the lack of progress. The disaster had impacted decent shelter, clean water, electricity, schools, everything. The situation in the country had been bad before, but now layers and layers of rubble joined decades of national neglect.

Now, as I reflect on the impact of the work of Habitat and so many organizations, nations and individuals, I really can see change. I see it in the faces of the people of Haiti. I see hope where once there was only despair. I see the beginning of a new enthusiasm.

The rubble is slowly going away. Camps are slowly disappearing. People who for many months lived in makeshift shelters in the median of the highway are gone. After such a profound shaking of a nation, these are signs of real change.

Is it fast enough? Certainly not. Is it deep enough? Not yet. But is change underway? Undoubtedly.

Habitat has helped more than 40,000 families with their shelter needs. We’ve helped families to rebuild, repair and reimagine their future. We’ve helped people move into homes that are better than anything they’ve ever lived in, and we’ve helped others recapture their land, their home and their hope. Not bad, but not enough.

The fixes for the issues that Haiti faces require long-term commitments, deep understanding and enormous respect for the people who have been impacted by all that Haiti has been. But with those commitments and that understanding and respect, the Haitian people will be successful at what they have learned to do so well: to keep going, to keep pushing for a better life for their sons and daughters.

The people of Haiti have taught me more in 18 months than I have learned in decades of work in this field. They have shown me that even the most devastated community is still a community. They have shown me that individuals — even when completely displaced from family, home and hope — can and will get up every day and make their lives better. It may be almost unperceivable at times, but a willingness to continue to improve day after day means even mountains of rubble can be moved and communities and neighborhoods can be rebuilt. There is a lesson in this for all of us. The human spirit is a remarkably powerful force, one not easily destroyed. The earth may shake, buildings may fall, but the human spirit continues — especially in Haiti.

Comments

Kate wrote:

i am doing a speech for school on Habitat for Humanity. I admire what you guys do. Thank you.

joe wrote:

Just a brief note of thanks for the outstanding work done by Habitat in Haiti! Thanks to all the staff, all the donors, thanks to the Haitian partners that have helped Habitat. There is so much more to be done, but I believe completely in the work and will continue to support Haiti and the amazing efforts by people like Mark.

Mary Margaret H... wrote:

I believe! I believe in the spirit of the Haitian people! I was involved with the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Build in Haiti in November of last year! It was a life-changing experience for me, and I hope to go back this year to continue the mission with our Haitian brothers and sisters!

Linda Fisher wrote:

Thank you for your service to God and to Haiti. I really appreciate you sharing this ongoing story.

Drew Meyer wrote:

Dear Mark,

Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful thoughts. Your work
and that of all our Habitat sisters and brothers insprires us to
do more every day to support the miracles you are helping to
create. You are in our thoughts and prayers. May the power of the
Holy Spirit continue to give you the stength and courage to do
His work.

Your friend,

Drew

mia condia wrote:

Hi Mark,

Thanks for all your hard work in helping the needy. I knew you'd go far as a CCS classmate and friend from the Martin Rd area.

Mia

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