Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation

Sep 28th
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Home Feature Stories Help Haiti with Love Tzu Chi Builds Temporary Homes for Haiti Earthquake Survivors

Tzu Chi Builds Temporary Homes for Haiti Earthquake Survivors

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Prefabs Finished for Earthquake Survivors
U.S. volunteers built 22 temporary homes for survivors of the Haitian earthquake in the capital, Port-au-Prince, erecting them in temperatures of nearly 40 degrees Celsius. They enable the residents to have houses that are waterproof and well ventilated.

The earthquake, measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale, struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, with its epicenter near Loganes, 16 miles west of Port-au-Prince. According to the U.S. Agency for International Development, it killed up to 220,000 people and left more than 1.5 million homeless. Since then, tens of thousands of people have been living in tents.

Since the quake, Tzu Chi has played an active role in the relief effort, providing food, clothes and medical services. In May last year, volunteers donated 26 simple temporary homes. On June 7 this year, a team of 22 volunteers arrived from the United States to get ready for construction of the new homes, designed by Chang Chi-yue, a volunteer from New Jersey. They worked with local residents on preparing the site at Route Neuve in the capital. On June 12, the team and local volunteers delivered the construction materials to the site and taught local people how to assemble them. They wanted to have the new structures in place before the rainy season and save the residents from the torrents of mud that this brings: they are designed with a raised floor – a feature that shows how the volunteers always think of local needs.

Initially, some people were reluctant to leave the tents to which they have become accustomed. But, when they saw each one of the new homes completed, they changed their minds and started to pull down the tents and prepare the land. The tents have adequate ventilation and indoor temperature that is more comfortable than that of the tents. Erecting them was no simple matter. It took the volunteers four days, working 12 hours a day in sweltering temperatures, to complete 22 houses; 21 will accommodate families and one will be a community center. After they had completed construction, the volunteers prepared gifts and blessings. The new residents could not wait to move in: they put up curtains and cleaned the floor with mops. The tent area of Route Neuve is next to the main road; now the new block of temporary houses is very conspicuous and passers-by cannot help but stop and look at them.

One of the new residents, Adonai Jean, said: "I was so worried about the rain and wind when I lived in the tent. But now my new house is complete and my mind now is at peace. I don't want you to leave us. If you are free, we would like to hold a simple farewell party for you all." Another resident, Yves Elisma, said he was touched by the work of the volunteers. "These people had no place to live," he said. "Seeing Tzu Chi volunteers do so many good deeds for Haiti makes me want to help them, too. I think it is a good thing and I should do it."

For the residents, the new homes are a turning point in their life. They hope for a better future.

Translated by Gloria Chou


" Getting mad is like a bout of temporary insanity. "
Jing-Si Aphorism

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