Habitat for Humanity International is sending 400 U.S. volunteers, led by former President Jimmy Carter, for a week-long home-building blitz in Léogâne, a Haitian coastal city near the epicenter of the devastating 2010 earthquake that leveled most of Léogâne.
Six Omahans, including a reporter and photographer from the World-Herald, will be among them. American and Haitian volunteers will work together on these first 100 of what will be a 500-home settlement (to serve 2,500 people) on what was a 34½-acre sugar cane field.
Homes and available land are in short supply in the country where half a million people live in tent camps that are unsafe and short on resources and medical services.
The 280-square-foot Habitat houses feature concrete floors, concrete-masonry and plywood walls and a corrugated metal roof. The houses are for an average Haitian family of five and include a front porch. The houses are built so they can be added onto. Each family will receive construction training and assistance. Separate latrines will be built for each house.
The permanent housing is part of Habitat’s goal to serve 50,000 earthquake-affected Haitian families over five years. Habitat has a nearly 30-year presence in Haiti, but this marks the first time the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project has been to Haiti. And it’s the first time the Habitat Omaha office has sent a team of volunteers to the Carter project, now in its 28th year.
The Carter project will be in Haiti next year as well. The annual week-long project seeks to raise awareness of housing needs in the U.S. and throughout the world.