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In Haiti, a New Home Means New Hope

It’s early in morning and the hot Haitian sun has barely risen as Junior Ducasse gets ready for work. He’s well dressed - wearing a white shirt, jeans, and a badge around his neck. He steps out of his home and locks the door. This simple gesture would have been impossible a few weeks ago. Junior was living in one of the many camps that dotted Port-au-Prince after the 2010 earthquake.

Junior moved from a tent in a camp to a safe, earthquake-resistant home in the Carrefour area of Port-au-Prince. This program sponsored by the American Red Cross, in partnership with CARE, is helping homeowners repair and expand their houses, as well as making them more disaster-resistant. The homeowners who benefit from this program agree to provide a free room to former camp residents for 18 to 24 months, offering them a safe place to live as they rebuild their lives.

“I was in a camp, and I was really tired of it. I thought I was tired of life,” he recalls. “When I was in the camp, I was uneasy. Sometimes my things got stolen. I worked. I had a lot of problems, but since I came here, I feel very relaxed.”

Junior works as a supervisor at a factory. Living in a camp, it was difficult for him to keep this job. Now, he explains, he can focus on work and the future. “Here, life is stable. We used to live with stress. But for now I’m comfortable. I have many projects.”

“Yesterday it rained. It was a joy for me to sit down at home and I smiled, because I wasn’t getting wet. It was raining but I wasn’t worried, as I didn’t have to stand up in floodwater. That’s why I felt pure bliss.”

Junior shares the house with homeowner Nicolas-Marie Amédée and her family. Through this project, the American Red Cross helped her to build a new latrine, retrofit the walls, build a new dividing wall and change the entire roof and beams.

Nicolas-Marie and her family were also displaced after the 2010 earthquake, sleeping in the street before moving to a tent in a camp near to where her home is now “I live better now,” she explains. “When I was in the tent I was not at ease. We couldn’t leave the house freely; we thought someone could come and tear it down.”

For her, the return to normal life means being able to do simple things. She’s spending the morning doing house chores like making the bed, sweeping, and cooking. “Compared to the way my life used to be, now life is better.”

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.