After President Clinton visited the Mission of Hope last year, the Foundation began working with the Mission of Hope to help provide solar panels in the Leveque village. On this anniversary, we're sharing one woman's story of progress and her experience of how the Mission of Hope has helped her family over the past four years.
After the devastating earthquake in January, 2010 destroyed their home in Cabaret, Guilaine Jacques, her husband and 2 young children found themselves homeless, just like hundreds of thousands of other Haitians. She had been working in Port-au-Prince as a business-woman, selling items in the market, but now had nothing. A few days later, her 22-day-old baby daughter died, as they were trying to secure shelter. All seemed hopeless. But she heard something later that year that brought her hope. Mission of Hope, Haiti had plans to build a new community of permanent homes for displaced earthquake survivors living in temporary blue tent shelters. This program, called “Blue-to-Block” would be in Leveque, a few miles from their shelter in Cabaret. The vision was that they would provide more than housing, but would build a thriving, self-sustaining community that included a school, a market place, a church, clean water solutions, and playing fields. It would also be unique in that it would provide housing for a community of 160 deaf families, essentially integrating the hearing and deaf communities into one larger community.
This was the chance that Guilaine had been hoping and praying for, so she signed her family up to become a part of this Leveque community and moved them into their new home. As we approached the four-year anniversary of the earthquake, we sat down with Guilaine, to ask her how this community has impacted her in the past four years.
Mission of Hope has given me a home. I feel so good because now I do not have to think about, or worry about, how I am going to pay for a house. Mission of Hope has been able to take out the stress I had about housing, such as what job can I work in order to be able to pay for my house and still be able to provide for my family. The people of Leveque have good relationships with one another. If someone has a problem in their house and they need help, the community comes to help them. In the village, we live as a family.
I used to have moments of fear, but now I know that God always provides when I am in need. I now have a hope for my future because before Leveque was a forest and we were just living in a shelter. Now Mission of Hope has come and built a house for us. After the house, they built a church. After the church, they built a school. Now many children are no longer working on the streets because they have a school to attend. With all of this there is a good future for the people of Leveque. Before when we chose to come and live in Leveque to find shelter, there were a lot of people who were critical. People would say, “Wow, there is no water, and there is no electricity, how are you going to live there?” The same people who were critical before now would like to come live in Leveque. Others have been able to see the good that God has brought to the life of the people in Leveque.
Something else that has made Leveque better are the solar panels that have been installed. The solar panels have been good for the village. Before solar panels, things were bad because around 6 or 7 in the evening we could not go anywhere because it is dark, you cannot see anything. Now you can go anywhere even at 9 or 10 o’clock and work around the village in safety. The solar panels have also provided security for the community of Leveque. Even if someone would try to hide somewhere, now the people can see them in the night.
I have big dreams for the future of Leveque. We have had a good beginning here in Leveque, as there have been many things that have changed in Leveque, I hope Leveque continues to change and advance. One day, I hope to have a place to work here. I hope to one day see a health center, roads, electricity, and education for women to help their families even more.
Guilane’s story is one of the great success stories of the rebuilding effort since the earthquake, but recovery and rebuilding is a long-term process. By the end of 2013, more than 400 families, just like Guilaine’s have been moved into permanent concrete homes, with 150 more homes slated for construction as funding permits. There is definitely more work to be done, but we can celebrate so much, as we continue to work together to move forward.