Under Tents–An International Campaign for Haitian Housing

Forgive me if I have a lot of posts about Haiti in the blog–it is a place near and dear to my heart, and with my upcoming volunteer service trip there in July, it occupies so much of my thinking (and dreaming. For more information about the volunteer construction and education trip I am leading in July, and how you can help us meet our lofty goals with a tax-deductible donation, click here).

In nearly every conversation about Haiti, I am asked about progress made since I was there two years ago, and while I will have a clearer picture once I am there, the indicators are what most of us suspect–recovery from the 2010 earthquake has not moved at a pace any of us expected. There are still, by conservative estimates, about 400,000 people living in tents, who have never been able to go home. That’s two and a half years of sustaining yourself and your family as displaced…and it isn’t getting any easier. The government is forcing evictions of tent villages with no viable alternative, and yesterday, July 2, local organizers launched an international housing rights campaign, Under Tents. The nation’s displaced homeless are urgently requesting the government halt all forced evictions until alternative housing is made available, needing the US, Canada, and European allies to raise their (our) voices demanding designation of land for housing and a centralized government housing branch to coordinate a relocation/re-housing program. It’s not too much to ask, and this initiative is the coordinated work of dozens of grassroots organizers. It is lamentable that the hundreds of thousands still living under tarps have no regular access to electricity, toilets and plumbing, clean drinking water, or acceptable safety…and are ravaged by the cholera epidemic that broke out after the earthquake and that diseases deadly, subsequent surges (a strain of cholera previously unseen in Haiti, and presumed to have been brought by international UN workers arriving from Asian regions).

I asked for forgiveness for such a focus on Haiti in blog posts…but if it hadn’t fallen off the news cycle in America, and fallen out of our awareness, we would have taken action sooner. We can’t act unless we know. Read the petition behind the cause, and consider adding your name.

2 responses to this post.

  1. In the aftermath of the earthquake, government officials spoke of moving people to well-planned camps in advance of the rainy season. In March, officials suggested that people should resume residence in their former homes, many of which they said were still habitable. (Survivors, some of whom watched the walls of their cracked houses lean more with each major aftershock, demurred.) The government’s official reconstruction plan, presented to international donors in March, asserts that it will set up temporary shelters in five locales which will become long-term housing “with sustainable infrastructure and basic services,” but gives little detail of how this is to happen. The government has apparently acquired land to house 100,000 people, but some of it is far from jobs, schools, health care, and food markets, as well as family and community.

    Reply

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