Families given homes in Concern secure housing project

FOR many Haitians made homeless by last year’s earthquake, the possibility of having their own secure homes, gardens or even personal toilets are far off, maybe years away.

But a swamp east of capital Port au Prince has been reconverted into a small village to house up to 1,200 families who lost their homes.

Already, signs of normal life have emerged among the transitional shelter homes funded by Irish charity Concern.

A barber’s shop, a bank stall and mini beauty parlours line the road into Tabarre Issa, a secure village with homes made of timber and concrete.

Father-of-one Relase Jetro, 32, who lost his home during the January 12 quake explains what difference the Irish-funded home had made to his life and that of his two-year- old daughter, Mary Machine. “I was living in a tent for ages. Now I have money working in the village here and can take care of my family. But I still don’t know about the future whether we will have to move to another place.”

Jetro helps his sister, who also lives in the house with her children, run a beauty salon from their doorstep.

Like other neighbours, the family have planted shrubs and herbs.

Some of the homes in Tabarre Issa are even equipped with fridges and televisions. But most importantly of all, households are being given their own toilets, which separate the waste, which is then used as fertiliser in their gardens.

The hurricane and fireproof homes, with a lifespan of up to 10 years, cost an average €3,000 to build and some families who relocated to the site were trained and paid to help build the structures.

Security has also been provided by a new police station, a UN presence and solar-powered lighting at night on site.

The neighbourhood setting, where women sing on their doorsteps and children play in the yards, is a far cry from the crowded, dirty and disease-ridden camps further inside the capital.

Many of the occupants here were also encouraged to move out of Valee Bourdon, an area in the western part of the capital that is prone to landslides.

Concern’s US executive director and Belfast-man Dominic MacSorley said: “It’s such a stark contrast from the camps they came from, it’s like going from night to day.

“Your own place where you’re not huddled under plastic sheeting and where there’s danger of people living on top of each other and where women are exposed and potentially even raped just going to the toilet.

“We’re not trying to rebuild the old slums of Port au Prince, we’re trying to rebuild a new city. And this is a model that can be replicated.”

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