"We Are Better Prepared Now"

Tiny survivors of the 2010 Haitian earthquake gather outside the Model Resettlement Village in Gressier
Tiny survivors of the 2010 Haitian earthquake gather outside the Model Resettlement Village in Gressier

Commemoration of Haiti Earthquake in LWF Model Village

PETIONVILLE, Haiti/ GENEVA, 12 January 2015 (LWI) - “Li mouri, li mouri…” (He is dead, he is dead). Fabiola is crying in deep grief when she is relaying her story. She is one of 16 habitants from the Model Village that have gathered at the office of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Petionville in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the 7.0 Earthquake, which struck the capital of Haiti at 4.53 pm on Tuesday, 12 January 2010. The participants in this meeting are all very engaged and like Fabiola, they all had relatives who lost their lives.

Each story differs from the other but they have one thing in common. In a miraculous way their lives were spared. They have also been able to continue their lives and turn their trauma into something positive and constructive.  There are not only tears this morning when testimonies are shared. Laughter and joy demonstrate that they are not considering themselves as surviving victims. They have been able to rebuild their lives in a new context.  

The Model Resettlement Village is situated in Gressier, just west of Port-au-Prince, in the area where the earthquake struck hardest. After the disaster in 2010, The LWF together with partners has designed and implemented projects to reduce the disaster risks the communities face. Projects included rebuilding the environment, reducing soil erosion and prevention of flooding through reforestation. The LWF has partnered with the Haitian government, local authorities and civil society.

The Model Resettlement Village consists of 150 new houses. Families whose habitats were destroyed have found a new life here. “The village was built following the principle of ‘Building back Better’”, says Perolof Lundkvist, LWF Representative of the country program in Haiti. “There are now decent houses which are earthquake and cyclone resistant”. The houses have small, beautiful gardens and solar-powered street lights which make the village clearly visible from the surrounding area.

However, “Building back Better” not only concerns the hardware such as outward construction of houses and village infrastructure. The “software”, the building of a sustainable community, has been of great concern to LWF and its supporting partners. “A self-governed community built on the principles of human rights, democracy and environment friendly principles has been at the core of the efforts right from the beginning” Lundkvist says. “Much has been done and the development is encouraging but there is still a need for support in this process”.

The commemorating meeting closes with the question: How can we prepare for the future? Everyone in Haiti recognizes that there is a high probability for disasters to happen in this country again among other because the country is situated directly in a hurricane corridor. The suggestions made by the participants demonstrate that they are living with this reality each day. Perhaps the most encouraging statement comes from the person who is saying: “No matter what happens, we are better prepared now!”  

Contribution by LWF Haiti/ Perolof Lundkvist