(05/01/2015) Merilien Hyacinthe has lived in his new house on a hill close to Petit-Goâve for almost two years now. From up here, the mountains on the horizon look like wrinkled faults covered in green velvet. At their highest point they jut into the surreal towering clouds. The tall man is contemplative when he greets us. “My wife died six months ago”, he says quietly. Silence.
“Should we go?” “No, no”, he answers, “I would like to show you my gratitude”. Because life is good in the house that is equipped against earthquakes and hurricanes. He and his four children have been able to sleep here again without fear. Finally. For Merilien’s family too, a world collapsed with the earthquake, their mud house was not able to withstand this elemental force. A year under tarpaulin followed. “That was no life”, he says. “It was a happy day when we could finally move in here.” They cleaned, carried in the furniture and celebrated with a small party in the evening. “That was on 24th December!”. Merilien laughs. “This house is a godsend.”
Education is the most important thing
On the small table behind him where his children are practising their writing it says: God is great! Thanks to the solar panel on the roof, the children can now do their homework in the evenings as well. Education is the most important thing for Merilien. His sons and daughters should have a better education than he did, he only went to school for four years.
Financially, the family is in a better position than before the quake. Together with the employees from Welthungerhilfe, around two years ago Merilien removed the weeds from his land and planted seeds. At that time he also learned how to cultivate vegetables to enable a good harvest. Now he is a farmer, says Merilien proudly. He sells spinach, tomatoes, aubergines and peppers at the local market. From the profits he can pay the school fees. Merilien has bought a goat and shares his modest prosperity with those who had less luck.
Øle Schmidt works as a freelance writer in Latin America and Asia. The unabridged article can be found in the journal Welternährung 4/2014 (in German only).
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Welthungerhilfe reached 1.71 million people in Haiti.
Emergency aid: Clearance of building rubble and the distribution of relief supplies such as tents, water and food.
Reconstruction: Building of 893 homes, 15 schools, 282 cisterns, tanks and hand pumps, as well as 124 kilometres of road and 111 kilometres of sewage drains.
Development cooperation: Training sessions in the field of agriculture and disaster prevention.
2.3 million became homeless during the 2010 earthquake. Engineer Joseph Edner is building new houses with his compatriots.