When Haiti was struck by an earthquake in 2010, 1.6 million people were displaced from their homes and many families began to build homes on vacant land north of Port-au-Prince. That's where Habitat for Humanity came in. To assist these families, Habitat Haiti developed manuals to help them navigate Haiti’s land tenure laws and gain clear title to their homes.
Habitat for Humanity of Kent County will celebrate reaching $1 million of cumulative giving to international housing and relief work with a visit from Claude Jeudy, national director of Habitat for Humanity of Haiti.
More than 30 local churches, organizations and businesses that do work in Haiti have been invited to participate in the celebration, which will take place 4:30 to 6 p.m. April 19 at Roosevelt Park Community CRC, 811 Chicago Drive SW. The event is free and open to the public. Jeudy, who has devoted his career to economic development in Haiti, will speak at 4:30 p.m. Under his leadership, Habitat Haiti has served more than 50,000 families.
As part of its covenant with Habitat for Humanity International, each of the approximately 1,500 Habitat for Humanity local affiliate organizations throughout the United States and Canada tithe a portion of the unrestricted donations they receive to support one of Habitat for Humanity’s 70 international affiliates. After 32 years, Habitat Kent is the first Michigan affiliate to provide more than $1 million in support of affordable housing throughout the developing world. The donations equate to 300 homes for low-income families throughout the world, many of which are living in extreme poverty.
In addition to operating under the familiar Habitat for Humanity model of enabling homeownership for low-income families, Habitat Haiti offers innovative programs that are tied very closely to the community’s needs. These unique challenges include high unemployment, gender inequity and navigating the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that occurred in 2010.
Haiti’s unemployment rate is estimated at over 40 percent. To stimulate the country’s economy, Habitat Haiti employs and pays wages to would-be volunteers, who build more than houses. Habitat Haiti also performs a broad scope of work to improve the infrastructure of the neighborhoods in which it works such as digging drainage ditches and wells to ensure a community has clean water.
Habitat Haiti also recognizes the complicated relationship between gender equality and economic development. The affiliate has equipped 2,000 women in Haiti in small business development and home maintenance. Habitat Haiti also assembles and gives out tool kits to families that have skills but lack the resources to improve their own housing.