Jean-Robert Doudoute and family

Jean-Robert Doudoute has a smile as bright as the Haitian sun. Even when he’s describing the earthquake that destroyed the one-room house he rented near Léogâne, he manages to smile.

He was on the street selling goods that day in 2010.

“It was the worst thing I’d ever seen in my life,” he remembers. “I was just watching the houses collapsing. People were running. I didn’t know what it was.”

Life has been hard ever since. Jean-Robert lives with his wife, Roméne Joseph, and his daughters — Berlanda, 3, and Romenia, 18 months — in a sweltering tent: “It’s very miserable — not good for living.”

Jean-Robert’s motorcycle, which he used as a taxi, was crushed in the earthquake. Now his wife walks into town every day to sell candy, bread and kids’ toys to make a little money.

Jean-Robert envisions a bright future for his children. Already, toddler Berlanda is clamoring to go to school. She loves to draw and to try to write her name. “In the morning she gets up and asks to go to school,” he says, once again flashing his broad smile.

He’s excited about moving his family into their new house — giving his girls a place to sleep that’s safe from creeping mud and biting mosquitos.

“I will feel happy and at peace when they give me my key,” he says. “That’s going to be a great thing for me.”