In August, World Renew completed the last of 3,425 wood-framed, earthquake-resistant, hurricane-proof homes built in response to the massive earthquake that rocked Haiti in January 2010.
Not only did the project provide shelter to those who had lived through the devastation; it also provided job skills and employment to more than 300 people.
Jean Designe Henry, a construction engineer, is grateful for the fraternity he felt while working for World Renew.
World Renew greatly values the contributions of volunteers, said Wayne de Jong, World Renew’s director of disaster response and rehabilitation.
“Although numerous members of the CRC and other denominations contacted us immediately after the earthquake and expressed a strong desire to volunteer in Haiti,” de Jong said, “we made the decision very early on to use only Haitian labor for our housing response program.
“In a country where more than two-thirds of the labor force do not have formal jobs, and there is a dearth of on-the-job training opportunities, this only made sense.”
While World Renew did hire two Americans and one Filipino to oversee the project, the rest of the 300 staff who carried out project management, administration, and construction were Haitian. The teams built an average of 35 houses per week.
“It was an excellent opportunity [for Haitians] to earn much-needed income, but also to learn new skills, develop new ways of working, and be inspired by serving a Christian organization and having opportunities to share their faith with the communities and beneficiaries they worked with,” de Jong said.
Jean Designe Henry, who served as a construction engineer for the housing project, agrees.
“As part of the World Renew team, I felt a sense of fraternity,” he said. “World Renew treated the work very seriously, but they were also open-minded. If you had an idea, the program manager was open and encouraging. It was the best experience for me.”
With the project finished, most of these positions have now come to an end. “We pray that these former employees will be able to use their skills and experiences to find satisfactory employment,” said de Jong.
“We are also tremendously grateful for the generosity that made this program possible,” he added. “It was the prayers and financial gifts of people across North America in response to this earthquake that enabled World Renew to be there for the past two-and-a-half years. Thank you.”
The earthquake response also included food, cash, tarps, tools, rubble removal, home repairs, water and sanitation, animal restocking, seed distribution, and other livelihood projects. With the completion of the last home, the livelihood restoration project is the only project remaining. It is scheduled to conclude in December 2013.
About the Author
Kristen deRoo VanderBerg was part of the World Renew Communications team from 1999-2016. She now serves as director of Communications & Marketing for the Christian Reformed Church.