Housing for the poor is scandalously inadequate in rural Haiti, and the 2010 earthquake made the situation worse. Large families live together in small, rickety shacks of cardboard, tin, rags, and straw with dirt floors, unfit for human habitation. Vermin--rats and insects--are impossible to control, and the straw roofs constantly leak or are blown away by even mild rainstorms. Space is so sparse that people often sleep in shifts.
Since 1997, the Haitian Health Foundation's Happy House program has provided clean, healthy housing for the homeless and for poor families in rural southern Haiti. For families who have lived huddled into tiny, dark, unhygenic hovels, a Happy House can be the beginning of a new life.
Happy Houses replace unstable shacks with four-room, concrete-block buildings. They have cement floors, a tin roof, windows, and doors. Recipients are selected by a vote of village committees to ensure that only the most needy receive them. They participate in building their own house by providing labor (when possible) as well as sand, rocks, and water. Imagine the joy of a family finally able to move into their very own Happy House, and you're sure to feel happy, too!
A Happy House provides humane living conditions, improved sanitation, and dignity. Even better, building a Happy House helps communities grow: improving health by improving sanitation, empowering poor families to contribute to their own homes, employing local tradesmen and laborers, benefiting the local economy through the sale of building materials, and embracing the poor as a part of society. A non-sectarian non-profit, Haitian Health Foundation does not evangelize or require a religious test from recipients. A Happy House creates a win situation for everyone!
You can help a build a Happy House! Every contribution helps, from our popular $10 way to help, all the way up to the $1,000 level, which builds one complete Happy House for a family to come home to.
Update from the Field
Donors like you helped repair buildings damaged by hurricane Matthew. 80% of the buildings in Jérémie - houses, schools, businesses, and churches - were destroyed when Hurricane Matthew hit in October 2016. Since then, HHF has repaired 688 houses and has plans to repair another 350 houses over the next few months. On average, the cost to replace the metal roof of a Happy House, including any needed repairs to rafters, is $500.
The funds from donors like you, along with other donated funds, were used to replace the roof of a house belonging to a family of 7 people in one of the mountain villages. The head of this family is a woman named Lisette (her name has been changed for privacy), who was thrilled when she and her 6 children received a new Happy House back in 2012. Lisette told HHF that, in the height of Hurricane Matthew, the intact tin roof of their house blew away "just like paper." In the days following the storm, emergency shelters were set up temporarily in some schools and any other buildings that survived the hurricane. Also, tarps were distributed to provide families like Lisette's with some protection from the elements. When Lisette's house was repaired, she was very relieved. She told us that her two youngest children were very scared when the hurricane came and that they still become afraid whenever they hear the wind blow. Having a strong, secure house once more has made them all feel much safer.
House Before and After:
The Haitian Health Foundation provides health care, education and development programs to 250,000 people in the city of Jeremie and 105 mountain villages in southwestern Haiti. The Happy House program builds strong, secure houses in the rural villages to replace hovels made from banana leaves, cardboard and rusted tin.
Thanks to your generous donations, the Haitian Health Foundation most recently constructed a house for a woman and nine children. The children's father died in 2008 and the mother has struggled to raise her family alone with no regular income. Her two eldest sons try to get jobs helping neighbors but the work is sporadic and not enough to provide for the entire family. Whatever money they do earn is used to pay for food, so there is nothing left over to cover school costs for the children and they cannot afford to pay any rent. They were living in a relative's hut with a thatched roof and a dirt floor. The hut was so flimsy that the woman would kneel down and pray that she and her children would be safe each time it stormed. Rain always leaked in, and it was impossible to keep things dry. Now with a happy house they are safe and secure when it storms. We look forward to hearing more inspiring stories, and we could not do it without your generous support!
A volunteer effort of health professionals begun in 1982, the Haitian Health Foundation (HHF) is a four-star charity on Charity Navigator. 93% of funds collected go directly to services for the poor. In 1985, after working for four years in Port au Prince, HHF moved its outreach to Jérémie, Haiti, at the suggestion of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, in order to bring health care, hope, and opportunity to this especially poor and remote area.
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