Hurricane Matthew, a monstrous category 4 storm pummeled southwestern Haiti on Oct. 3 and 4, 2016. Reports estimate that the death toll will top 1,000 with widespread damage to homes, schools, transportation and critical infrastructure in the areas surrounding Les Cayes. Crops were damaged and animals scattered or killed; other sources of food have been cut off. There has been a rampant rise in cholera and other serious life threatening diseases. Children and families are in dire need of help.
Pwoje Espwa, a 125-acre village and home to over 300 orphaned and vulnerable children, was directly in the path of the storm. The storm caused major damage to our boys’ neighborhood and secondary school plus destroyed 3 of the 6 classrooms in one of our outlying schools. All will need to be rebuilt.
None of our children were injured during the storm because of the safety precautions our staff executed prior to the storm. Two days before the storm hit, our staff moved 200+ boys from their homes to the primary school, which is a more secured building. Each boy carried a mattress and two days worth of clothing. The storm caused major damage to all 20 homes in the boys’ neighborhood. Six of the homes were left unrecognizable as the roof and walls collapsed; the other 14 will require new roofs. Our girls’ dome housing, on the other hand, sustained no damage. As we rebuild the boys’ neighborhood, our long-term plan is to replace these homes with the sturdier dome design.
In addition to rebuilding our own facilities, we are reaching out to help the surrounding community. Many of Espwa’s neighbors have been displaced and they are seeking food and shelter at Espwa. These families are in dire need of food, water, clothing, shelter and medical services, and will require our assistance with home repairs and rebuilding.