Following is a post from 2014 PovRes intern Sarah Kelly:
In line with our mission, we desire for our construction projects to be part of making a sustainable and lasting impact on the community in which we serve. As we build, we purposefully stimulate the local economy with the vast majority of the funds we use on a project being spent in Haiti.
Our most recent project, the Men’s Transition Center, will be used as a training location as we help mentor young Haitian men and teach them applicable skills such as agriculture and carpentry. We hired Haitians to help us create building plans and to help construct the foundation and the walls, and we were able to provide hundreds of hours worth of labor—a rare commodity in Haiti. Whenever we hire Haitians, we intentionally treat them with respect, providing food as well as fair pay. The typical Haitian citizen lives off only a dollar a day and usually works 12 hours each day, but our workers earn between 8 and 20 dollars a day for eight hours of labor.
We supplement the work of the Haitians with volunteers from the U.S., including several professional contractors. Our volunteers experience many of the challenges that face Haitians every single day. In the U.S., we are privileged to have immediate access to abundant construction materials. The construction process in Haiti requires extensive preparation. The Haitian equivalent to Home Depot or Lowes is called MSC and the owners import construction materials from the U.S. and elsewhere, but selection is limited and it can take an entire day to sort through and choose supplies. We often have to go through “a friend of a friend” to find materials in Haiti or import our materials months ahead of time.
Our hope is that our buildings serve not only their purpose as a site location, but also, through the construction process, stimulate the Haitian economy, enable Haitians to learn new skills by working alongside skilled and trained Americans, and help individual families survive.
College student Sarah Kelly first visited Haiti with Poverty Resolutions as part of her church group in 2013. She was a 2014 PovRes intern and spent 6 weeks serving in Haiti.