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Rebuild Haiti on target to build 2,500 homes
Mark Kelly, Baptist Press
August 01, 2011
4 MIN READ TIME

Rebuild Haiti on target to build 2,500 homes

Rebuild Haiti on target to build 2,500 homes
Mark Kelly, Baptist Press
August 01, 2011

PORT-AU-PRINCE,

Haiti — Rebuild Haiti,

the joint Southern Baptist disaster relief initiative launched in the aftermath

of the massive Jan. 12, 2010,

earthquake, will have built 1,982 houses by the end of November and has 560

more in the pipeline before the scheduled exit date in March 2012.

“Southern Baptists should heartily celebrate what has been

accomplished in Haiti,”

said Jeff Palmer, executive director of Baptist Global Response (BGR),

one of the key partners in the Rebuild Haiti alliance.

“It is amazing what has happened in such a short period of

time, but there are still thousands of people living in tents and much to be

done.”

“Rebuild Haiti”

is a cooperative venture that also involves Haitian Baptists, the International

Mission Board, the Florida Baptist Convention and Southern Baptist Disaster

Relief. In the past 18 months, Southern Baptists have invested more than $4.5

million in assisting survivors of the earthquake. Besides building houses, the

disaster response effort has included feeding programs, medical clinics, school

assistance, beds for 2,200 orphans, and prosthetics fabrication as well as many

other projects.

Baptist volunteers from Ecuador,

Dominican Republic,

Dominica and Grenada

have worked alongside U.S.

and Haitian volunteers.

The goal of the home construction campaign has not been just

to build houses, but rather to build Haitians and their communities, said David

Brown, who with his wife, Jo, directs Baptist Global Response work in the

Americas.

BGR photo

Even before the massive Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake, many Haitian families lived in substandard housing — and many are still living in tents. Southern Baptists’ Rebuild Haiti initiative is not only building new houses, it’s also helping Haitians rebuild their lives and communities.

“About 50 Haitians have been trained and employed as supervisors

on job sites. Each of these has been training two assistants,” Brown said.

“As a result of community transformation, small businesses

have been created to meet construction supply needs and transportation of those

supplies. Small diners and shops have sprung up to provide daily necessities.

“The impact of Rebuild Haiti will be felt for generations to

come.”

Home construction has been coordinated in about 30

communities, Brown said.

Southern Baptist volunteers who have endured the heat and

hardships of post-earthquake Haiti

can find satisfaction in knowing their efforts have made a difference for

thousands of Haitians, Palmer noted.

“We are, however, still entertaining volunteer teams who are

interested in helping in Haiti,

but we are asking them to diversify into other activities,” Palmer added.

“There are needs in the medical and healthcare areas, as

well as for water wells. We are working on some poultry/farming projects with

an orphanage to help them become self-sufficient.

“There’s an enormous amount of work yet to be done to help

people in these communities get their lives back on track and experience the

love of Christ for themselves.”

Bill Mathews, a volunteer

from River Oak

Church in Chesapeake,

Va., said he was deeply impressed by the

impact he saw Rebuild Haiti projects making in communities, as well as in

people’s lives.

“I worked in Bon Repo, Damien and Marmont. Seeing three

different communities in different stages was something that really impacted

me,” Mathews said. “In Bon Repo, there were still lots of suspicions and taunts

from the locals. A group of kids climbed a tree near where I was working and

teased me while I worked. It was very clear that the program had not ‘soaked

in’ enough in Bon Repo, but there was a toe-hold established.

“In Damien, a ton of work has been done and the community

has been well-reached. There were lots of smiles and friendly faces there,”

Mathews added. “We all felt very safe the entire time we were there, and our

Haitian co-workers were very protective of us.

“The people in Marmont were friendly, hospitable and their

church community was very strong. In Marmont, there was a mature community with

a functioning church community that supported one another,” Mathews said.

North Carolina Baptist Men continues to support and

facilitate projects in Haiti

as well.

Visit baptistsonmission.org.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Kelly is senior writer and an assistant

editor for Baptist Press.)