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Benita Louis and family -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Benita Louis and family



“The start of a new life”

Benita Louis has five children and one bed — a thin, full-size mattress that sits on a raised platform. That platform is important because when it rains, the water comes rushing in from outside onto the thin tarpaulin floor of her temporary shelter.

On those nights, the family sits on the dry bed and waits for the rain to stop, Louis said, and then they sponge the water out.

Louis, who made a modest living running a roadside stand, lost everything she owned in the 2010 earthquake. She now makes small sums of money by doing laundry for other families in the Santo shelter community.

“I use that money to buy food for the children,” she said. “It’s not enough, but this is the only opportunity I have to buy food.”

She is excited about the possibilities her new concrete block house will bring. Her 8-month-old twin boys have been sick and have been living with their father, but the new house will greatly reduce the family’s health hazards. In addition to her young twins, Louis is mother to Benoit, 16; Jenny, 11; and Susie, 8.

“The new house to me will be the start of a new life,” she said. “I won’t live the same way I’m living now.”