A year after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, more than a million people remain homeless, the country leaderless. Mennonite Central Committee coordinator for Haiti Alexis Erkert Depp reported only two percent of rubble had been removed by September, and by January 2011, only 10 percent of the $10.2 billion promised by the international community had been spent.
MCC’s responses to the disaster have come from around the globe: 39 countries donated $14 million, Mennonite churches in neighbouring Dominican Republic immediately offered material aid, a Work and Learn team from Paraguay, Guatemala, and Costa Rica cleared rubble for six long days in July, 15 volunteer structural engineers evaluated buildings for soundness, and Californian engineer James Mwangi spent a year training Haitians to build earthquake- and hurricane-resistant houses and supervising construction of 200 homes for families of people living with a disability.
Besides political uncertainty, issues that complicate rebuilding efforts include unverifiable land ownership, inaccessible building sites, rising prices, and the absence of a national building code.
“We have endured a year of living in displaced people’s camps – during hurricane season and in the midst of a cholera epidemic,” says Antonal Mortimé, executive secretary of MCC partner Platform of Haitian Organizations for the Defense of Human Rights. “My vision for Haiti is to see us, as Haitians, govern ourselves…to become principal actors in the struggle for social and economic change.”