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Finding Shelter in Haiti

Finding Shelter in Haiti

It is nearly seven years since a catastrophic earthquake struck Haiti on 12 January, 2010.

It’s July in Haiti and tropical storm season has started. The rain pours down as I’m huddled in a transitional shelter otherwise known as a ‘T-shelter’, which is home to 3 year old Mryly, her two brothers (8 months old and 8 years old) and her mother. Mryly’s home, like many others, was intended to be a transitional shelter to get families out of tents and into safer structures following the devastating 2010 earthquake, until such time they could find themselves a permanent, safer home.

T-shelters were only intended to last for three to five years; however six years post-earthquake and it’s the only home Myrly has ever known. As the transitional structures erode, they become increasingly unsafe for the families living within them, but many families simply did not have the resources to move into a new home.

Myrly’s t-shelter is made with a wooden frame and tinned roof and as the rain slowly drips in, the rotting wood in the corner becomes all the more apparent. But the rain certainly doesn’t dampen Myrly’s bright and energetic spirit, especially not today. Today there is great excitement in the air as Mryly’s home is getting upgraded!

Thanks to the financial support from the European Union Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection (ECHO) and the generous contributions from the Irish public, GOAL is providing training support to 50 local masons to upgrade transitional shelters into safer, more permanent homes. Throughout the 12 day training, the masons were shown how to replace the plastic sheeting with more solid walls along with many other structural improvements. The ultimate goal of this improvement is to turn the shelter into a permanent structure which guarantees the safety, security and comfort acceptable in the long term. Each participant also received a construction kit with protective clothing and essential tools to help further their career.

At the training I meet George, a 31 year old participant determined to increase his skills as a mason. Post-earthquake Haiti is challenging for George, having lost his wife, he is raising his 8 year old son as a single father and he is always searching for new work opportunities.

“Life can be hard at times but it is important to increase my skills so that I can have an income for my son. This is my second GOAL training, I also participated in a GOAL Disaster Risk Reduction training. I enjoy the trainings and I hope they will help me to get more work,” said George, mason and training participant.

After completing the training the masons, equipped with knowledge, skills and tools, formed teams of 5 and started upgrading 25 other shelters in the area, helping to improve living conditions for families and making their community safer and resilient.

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Photos-Jenny Barker

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