We arrived January 16, ready to lay out where our next eight houses would go. Armed with my trusty 300′ tape measure, two rolls of yellow caution tape and the aid of my usual young helpers from the village, we started our journey of creating new life for eight families. Families who in recent years had only known homes made of fabric, rusty pieces of tin, sticks and string; homes that invariably leaked or crumpled during heavy downpours and winds. The homes they lived in before the 2010 earthquake had crumbled to the ground, leaving them homeless, many having lost loved ones.
One such woman, Marie, had a thriving restaurant and home. She lost it all. Thankfully what she had left was her husband, three boys and her in-laws. Having no money to rebuild, she started to sell food on the side of the street. Unfortunately she didn’t make enough money to continue, but they found a landowner who let them squat on his land. Her husband found a job driving trucks, so she took it upon herself to build two shelters for the seven of them. She scavenged wood, tin, tarp and blocks to create a home for her family.
John and I were checking out another family, who we determined was definitely in need of a home, when we met Marie on the side of the road. She asked us to visit her place, as well, so we followed her to her home. When she opened the piece of tin that served as a gate, John and I were not so sure that this woman and her family fit the criteria for receiving a home. Her kitchen was outdoors, as is usual in Haiti’s lower class homes, and was covered with a tarp; but it was immaculate, even with a dirt floor! We noticed she had gathered houseplants on one side as she offered us seats in rudimentary chairs. We did not sense in the least that she was living in squalor. The rooms she had built for them to sleep in were adequate to hold up in a storm. We really wondered if we needed to give this family a home as they seemed to be doing ok for themselves. And, really, that’s what ultimately swung our decision to give this women’s family a home—“doing for themselves.” Our village is for the hopeless and the helpless, but it also needs strong residents that can influence and lead the villagers to “do for themselves.”
God has blessed the village in that respect. It has strong Christian leadership among its residents that guides and unites the community in worthy endeavors. And now that Marie is there in her new home, we expect that she will also be an asset to Village de Merci a Dieu.