Of all the images that I saw on my trip to Haiti with Habitat last November and in the year since, the one I've included with this post is the one that has stuck with me the most. Before Habitat Haiti starting building at Santo, the ground where this house sits was empty and the couple was likely living in a very tentative situation nearby. (You can see part of a tent city at left in the background of the picture.) Without getting into language that is too lofty, it's really nice to know that I contributed in some small way to this - the ability of people to go about their daily lives - like playing cards outside at dusk - with some degree of stability.
Hurricane Sandy gave a lot of us in the Northeast United States a sense of how disruptive and unsettling even a temporary loss of shelter, power, or water can be. Now imagine what it would be like trying to ride Sandy out under a plastic tarp. And also imagine what it would be like to have most if not all of your friends and family dealing with the same situation, unable to provide with you with any respite. That is what hundreds of thousands of Haitian citizens face every single time a storm like Sandy passes through. And it's why I consider this project to be so vital.
Its tough to realize how many ways a loss of stable shelter can affect a community until you witness people trying to do without. Aside from the obvious - getting out of the elements - there are so many benefits that we, in a comfortable society, can fortunately take for granted. How do you make sure your children get to school? How can they rest when they get sick? How do you travel to see friends or loved ones? Is it safe to do so? How do you obtain any sense of privacy? If you don't have somewhere to rest peacefully, how can you work?
These considerations, and more, are what Habitat Haiti is attempting to resolve for the people in the Santo community, and I'm happy to be a part of it.
Note: this is my second post about my upcoming trip to Haiti with habitat for Humanity on November 23rd. For more details about the Carter Work Project, please see the following: http://www.habitat.org/cwp/2012 For my personal fundraising page, please see: http://share.habitat.org/cwp2012participants161