Here at Haven, we organised our first ‘Build It Week’ in 2009, bringing 273 volunteers to the community of Ouanaminthe to construct 100 homes in just over a week.
Since then, more homes and resources have been built in the community. Atania’s story shows the impact that this has made.
Atania Joseph is a 27-year-old mother of four, who has three boys (aged between nine and two years old) and one girl, who is just nine months old. She is married to a mechanic by trade, but he is currently unemployed. They have been living on site at a village constructed by Haven in Bas Dillaire, on the outskirts of the city Ouanaminthe in the Nord-Est department of Haiti.
Launched by Haven in 2009, this was the first of its projects in Haiti, and was a partnership between Haven and the Office of the Mayor of Ouanaminthe, aiming to provide basic services to the community of Bas Dillaire. Haven constructed a total of 198 new houses and a community centre on site, and worked with the community to develop systems for solar panel energy to each household, as well as a constant water supply.
As a part of the community development activities that took place on site, a site management committee was formed and capacity-building support was provided. The general community also had access to a range of training, such as hygiene promotion, family planning, conflict resolution, disaster risk reduction and many more. An eager learner, Atania actively participated in several of these social development training courses.
Some of the most important training she attended was on hygiene promotion. At this training, Atania and other community members learned about safe water treatment techniques, reasons for washing hands before eating, proper methods for hand washing with soap and water, the importance of clean surroundings and the management of waste.
Atania said that, while she knew some of the information before the workshop, she now more clearly understands why using best practices is important. She was happy to receive a thorough explanation of each practice, and now has changed the behaviour of herself and her family to keep them safe from waterborne and other diseases. She confirmed that she will always buy soap, and will make sure her family continues to practice improved hygiene techniques in the years ahead.
When housing sites are developed, people who are strangers to one another are brought together to live in close quarters. Haitian communities generally spend a lot of time on their front porches talking, gossiping and passing their time together every evening. As can be expected, issues do come up from time to time and conflict can arise.
Haven’s community development officer, Nadine Raphael, spent a great deal of time working on conflict resolution and conflict management training with people living at the Bas Dillaire site. Atania specifically learned the dangers of gossiping, and that it is better to resolve conflict face-to-face, rather than creating trouble.
When asked about any difference in behaviours after the workshops, Atania reported that, in her close living area, there is a very positive change in both behaviours and overall relationships. She herself has learned how to communicate more positively, and this has had the greatest impact on her life. She feels lighter in her heart and is happier. She feels that when there is less conflict, people can spend their time focusing on good things, like developing their community and taking good care of their children.
With the new tools and skills that she and her neighbours have learned, Atania feels that her life is now better.