More than 50 volunteers for the Provo/Orem area have just returned from the Sustain Haiti campaign to help in the rebuilding of Haiti after a 7 magnitude earthquake that happened last year.
On Jan. 12, 2010, an earthquake hit on the coast of Leogane, Haiti, a city of 100,000 people. Leogane and the nation’s capital of Port-Au-Prince, were almost completely destroyed. The United States government estimated a death toll between 46,000 to 85,000 and around 1.5 million people homeless after this disaster. Port-Au-Prince, approximately 20 miles west from Leogane, was unable to respond to the earthquake because many medical facilities and communication towers were destroyed hindering the cities ability to call for aid.
Rony Charles, a business management student at BYU from Port-Au-Prince, said he was fortunate that his family was not harmed while he was at school. Charles was one of the original members of the Provo based campaign Sustain Haiti, a non profit organization with people from Utah County who gave aid to victims in the city of Leogane.
“The first time we went, we just did whatever we could to help,” Charles said. “But this time we were able to learn from last year.”
Sustain Haiti just returned from their second summer in Haiti helping to rebuild the city of Leogane. Joshua Satterfield, director of public relations for Sustain Haiti, said that this year they were much better to help with rebuilding the city. In a recent news release Sustain Haiti said they focused on five major projects to help build self reliance. The projects included square foot gardens, business seminars, micro-credit operations, clean water systems and hygiene training.
“We were able to get water systems, for people to have access to clean water,” Satterfield said. “Five thousand people are able to use it.”
Charles said this water system will last for 20 years for the Haitians.
Prior to this water system, people would have to travel two miles in order to get their clean water. Satterfield said the people were thankful for what Sustain Haiti was able to accomplish.
“We were giving them what they asked for,” Sattersfield said. “This water purification system was able to give them clean water constantly.”
Between last year and this year Sustain Haiti was able to see major improvements in both education and the square foot gardening.
“The square foot gardens were a huge success,” Charles said. “A lot of organizations are calling us wanting to replicate our success.”
Using a model similar to BYU’s business competition, Sustain Haiti now has a business model helping Haitian entrepreneurs get their business started. There are English classes also available for Haitians to take from 5:30 to 7 a.m.
“I am really excited for the business program,” Charles said. “The people were cheering for each other and encouraging each other.”
Sustain Haiti is a non profit organization looking for funding. For more information on aid or more information on coming projects and “1,000 miles for Haiti” visit their website sustain-haiti.org.