Family stories -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Family stories

On a field where sugar cane used to grow, 100 houses will sprout during Habitat for Humanity’s 2011 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project, Nov. 5-12, 2011, in a community called Santo on the outskirts of Léogâne, Haiti. Since the earthquake of Jan. 12, 2010, destroyed or damaged virtually every building in this area, some 300 families have pitched their makeshift shelters on this land.

For months, families of five or six have endured the withering heat of the day and the chill of night in tents made of tarpaulins, scraps of lumber and rubble. After the 28th Carter Work Project, 100 of these families will move into permanent homes made of concrete and wood, with corrugated iron roofs and room to grow.

Photo slideshow

A community called Santo


‘We are one Santo’: Building a community
Laying the groundwork for the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project begins long before the land is cleared and construction is under way. In Léogâne, Habitat for Humanity Haiti has been working with leaders of the Santo community for months, establishing trust and exploring ways to build on the strengths of the people who call this place home.


Meet a few of the families of this year’s Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project.



Adeline Auguste
Adeline Auguste, 55, still bears the physical and emotional scars of the 2010 earthquake that took her husband’s life and destroyed the home they shared in Léogâne.



Benita Louis and family
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.



Eunide Eugene and family
Eunide Eugene was four months pregnant when the magnitude-7.0 earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010. Her concrete house collapsed on top of her, pinning her in the debris.



Frantzyse Erisma and family
Frantzyse Erisma, 28, is the general coordinator of the Association of Women’s Solidarity, an advocacy group that has been instrumental in Habitat for Humanity’s work in the Santo community. She and her daughters, ages 6 and 7, also are among the 100 families who will be moving from tents into permanent homes after the Carter Work Project.



Genevieve Merveille and family
Genevieve Merveille, 28, and her husband, Fenes Mathurin, lost everything they owned in the 2010 earthquake. But they survived, along with their three children: daughter Mirlaine, 12, and sons Kervins, 9, and Jean Felder, 4.



Marie Veronila Antoine and family
Marie Veronila Antoine, 37, is assistant coordinator of the Association of Women’s Solidarity in Léogâne’s Santo community. She is a force of nature, dressed in a Halloween vest and skirt in the middle of July, with bright-colored curlers in her hair and carrying a purse covered with black-and-white images of Lucy and Ethel from “I Love Lucy.”



Rosemie Dodo and family
Rosemie Dodo, 26, spends as little time inside her temporary shelter as she can; the heat is not healthy for her infant daughter, Nadjhe. Sometimes she leaves the baby with neighbors in order to walk to the camp’s well and draw a bucket of fresh water.



Rosette Louis
Rosette Louis, 70, shares a tiny temporary shelter with three of her four grown children. During the day, as temperatures make living in the tent unbearable, her children go out in search of work — anything to help the family survive.



Yvette Vertilius and family
To keep the rain out of their makeshift shelter, Yvette Vertilius and her husband, Sony Orientus, try to keep the seams where the pieces of tarp are joined tightly sealed. But that makes it impossible for air to circulate, and the heat inside climbs quickly. She frequently takes her 4-month-old daughter, Givenscley, to a neighbor’s shelter that is a little cooler so the infant won’t overheat.