STRUTHERS, Ohio (WYTV) – Ever since an earthquake devastated Haiti six years ago, dozens of churches and nonprofit organizations from the Valley have reached out a helping hand to try and rebuild the country.
Habitat for Humanity has worked to build homes locally, but a portion of the money raised also supports Habitat programs in other countries. Habitat for Humanity of Mahoning Valley Executive Director Monica Craven showed off a newly built house in Struthers, which she said will also help those living in Haiti.
“The family that moves in here gets to pick which country, and our family — Jeannine — picked to sponsor Haiti, so this house will sponsor a whole house in Haiti,” she said.
Craven spent a week in Haiti in 2012, building new homes to replace some of those destroyed in the massive earthquake two years before. With Hurricane Matthew hitting the poverty-stricken nation Tuesday morning with winds of 130 miles per hour and flooding rains, she’s worried about the families she was never able to help.
According to Habitat for Humanity, Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas and one of the poorest in the world. In 2012, it was estimated that 58.5 percent of the population fell below the poverty line.
A driver of that poverty is Haiti’s longstanding lack of adequate, affordable housing.
“They’re still living in FEMA tents,” Craven said. “They’re living with dirt floors. They’re living with metal, just sort of leaned up against sticks. It was really almost a tent-like situation for most of the houses that we saw.”
Habitat for Humanity has worked, not only to build houses in Haiti, but to develop educational programs and housing support services.
Kathy Price and her Mission of Love program in Austintown was one of the first to get aid delivered to Haiti after the quake six years ago. She said she again plans to help out in the country and is working to raise funds to buy emergency supplies for storm victims, especially those without clean sources of water..
“Water is essential, and then food, food, food,” she sad. “They’ve had a drought before the hurricane, and now it’s gonna be much worse.”
The Mission of LOVE Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides humanitarian aid to those in need worldwide.
Price said she has to make arrangements to truck whatever supplies she can collect to Florida and then have them sent by container ship.
Craven said Habitat for Humanity maintains an office and staff in Haiti and will be working on rebuilding as soon the storm passes.