Rebuild Haiti on target to build 2,500 homes
    August 1 2011 by Mark Kelly, Baptist Press

    PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Rebuild Haiti, the joint Southern Baptist disaster relief initiative launched in the aftermath of the massive Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake, will have built 1,982 houses by the end of November and has 560 more in the pipeline before the scheduled exit date in March 2012.

    “Southern Baptists should heartily celebrate what has been accomplished in Haiti,” said Jeff Palmer, executive director of Baptist Global Response (BGR), one of the key partners in the Rebuild Haiti alliance. “It is amazing what has happened in such a short period of time, but there are still thousands of people living in tents and much to be done.”

    “Rebuild Haiti” is a cooperative venture that also involves Haitian Baptists, the International Mission Board, the Florida Baptist Convention and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. In the past 18 months, Southern Baptists have invested more than $4.5 million in assisting survivors of the earthquake. Besides building houses, the disaster response effort has included feeding programs, medical clinics, school assistance, beds for 2,200 orphans, and prosthetics fabrication as well as many other projects. Baptist volunteers from Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Dominica and Grenada have worked alongside U.S. and Haitian volunteers.

    The goal of the home construction campaign has not been just to build houses, but rather to build Haitians and their communities, said David Brown, who with his wife, Jo, directs Baptist Global Response work in the Americas.

    BGR photo

    Even before the massive Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake, many Haitian families lived in substandard housing — and many are still living in tents. Southern Baptists’ Rebuild Haiti initiative is not only building new houses, it’s also helping Haitians rebuild their lives and communities.

    “About 50 Haitians have been trained and employed as supervisors on job sites. Each of these has been training two assistants,” Brown said.

    “As a result of community transformation, small businesses have been created to meet construction supply needs and transportation of those supplies. Small diners and shops have sprung up to provide daily necessities.

    “The impact of Rebuild Haiti will be felt for generations to come.”

    Home construction has been coordinated in about 30 communities, Brown said.

    Southern Baptist volunteers who have endured the heat and hardships of post-earthquake Haiti can find satisfaction in knowing their efforts have made a difference for thousands of Haitians, Palmer noted. “We are, however, still entertaining volunteer teams who are interested in helping in Haiti, but we are asking them to diversify into other activities,” Palmer added.

    “There are needs in the medical and healthcare areas, as well as for water wells. We are working on some poultry/farming projects with an orphanage to help them become self-sufficient.

    “There’s an enormous amount of work yet to be done to help people in these communities get their lives back on track and experience the love of Christ for themselves.”

    Bill Mathews, a volunteer from River Oak Church in Chesapeake, Va., said he was deeply impressed by the impact he saw Rebuild Haiti projects making in communities, as well as in people’s lives.

    “I worked in Bon Repo, Damien and Marmont. Seeing three different communities in different stages was something that really impacted me,” Mathews said. “In Bon Repo, there were still lots of suspicions and taunts from the locals. A group of kids climbed a tree near where I was working and teased me while I worked. It was very clear that the program had not ‘soaked in’ enough in Bon Repo, but there was a toe-hold established.

    “In Damien, a ton of work has been done and the community has been well-reached. There were lots of smiles and friendly faces there,” Mathews added. “We all felt very safe the entire time we were there, and our Haitian co-workers were very protective of us.

    “The people in Marmont were friendly, hospitable and their church community was very strong. In Marmont, there was a mature community with a functioning church community that supported one another,” Mathews said.

    North Carolina Baptist Men continues to support and facilitate projects in Haiti as well. Visit

    (EDITOR’S NOTE — Kelly is senior writer and an assistant editor for Baptist Press.)
    8/1/2011 9:38:00 AM by Mark Kelly, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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