Stories of Change

Hannanne outside her new home.

“From the moment they built this for us, it has been very useful to us.”

If you’ve ever sheltered in your house during a hurricane, you probably know the fear that rises when you hear the wind whipping outside and the pounding rain. Chances are that you and your family sought safety in one of the most secure spots in your house, away from windows and in a place where a tree couldn’t hit you if it fell.

Now, imagine that you were facing the same experience but your house was your enemy instead of your sanctuary. Imagine the fear that you would feel when the roof of your home blew off and suddenly the rain was inside your house. Imagine how it would feel when the walls began to shake and tremble.

This is what families like Hannanne Oreus’s lived through when Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti in October of 2016. “When the hurricane passed, there was wind. The roof of our house was completely taken off, because the house had a thatched roof. The house was destroyed – walls were destroyed, the wind took off the roof,” Hannanne, a public school teacher, recalls.

Hannanne’s house, like the houses of most of her neighbors, was made of mud and rocks and had a thatched roof. It was no match for the storm.

CWS helped them build a new house with support from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. If another storm strikes in the future, this new house will be a sanctuary for the family. “It has rebar, it has cement, it has a tin roof, it has sand. That is a big difference,” Hannanne observes. “From the moment they built this for us, it has been very useful for us. We give them thanks, even though we don’t see them physically, but in spirit we give them a big thanks.”