On August 14, 2021, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti, causing widespread destruction and devastating communities. The UU Service Committee (UUSC) has been in contact with our long-term grassroots partners in Haiti to assess and respond to the most pressing needs. Help UUSC get resources to grassroots groups in Haiti by making a gift to our Emergency Response Fund today.
For more than a decade, UUSC has had long-term projects in Haiti—the EcoVillages and the EcoVillage School – with partner Mouvman Peyizan Papay (Peasant Movement of Papaye; MPP). The idea for the EcoVillages was conceived after the 2010 earthquake, when our partner, MPP, ended up housing many people displaced from the city at its training center in the rural central plateau. After the earthquake, people fled to the countryside, where they felt safer. Many of those displaced expressed a desire not to return to Port-au-Prince, so UUSC, MPP, and a group of Presbyterian churches in Atlanta developed the idea and funding for a series of self-sustaining villages to be built on land owned by MPP. Emerson member Gay Ann Gustafson joined a UUSJ work project and helped set up the gardens using old tires to conserve soil and water.
Ultimately, six villages were constructed, each with 10 houses. MPP used its agroecology expertise to train the villagers on sustainable farming techniques and each village has a garden that serves as a food and income source for the village. As the villages grew, the need for a local school was identified, and UUSC and the Atlanta Church Group (ACG) agreed to fund its construction and operation. That school now serves children from both the villages and the surrounding area, as it is the only public school nearby.
In 2016, the wells in EcoVillages Two and Five had not been able to produce any water for more than a year. As a result, villagers from Village Five, who wanted drinking water walked 30 minutes to Village Six, where a UUSC grant recently repaired another broken well, and then carry it back home. As always, UUSC’s members came through, and supported the connection of all six villages to the electrical grid and to fix the two broken wells. Then, in October 2016, this struggling country suffered another devastating blow. Hurricane Matthew slammed into the southwest coast of Haiti, packing 145-mph winds and destroying houses and other buildings, crops, roads, bridges.
Current status of the school after the earthquake on August 14, 2021, as reported on the Atlanta Church Group website: “We are grateful to hear that the school and homes of the EcoVillages did not suffer damage. However, they felt the earth shaking underneath them which triggered traumatic memories of the 2010 quake and PTSD is devastating.”
For earlier on-site reports from UUSC team member Michael Kourabas, go to uusc.org and search for Haiti. The ACG website has some videos and more information.