Stories of Change

Marcel stands on the porch of his new home.

CWS has repaired or rebuilt hundreds of houses in Haiti for survivors of the 2010 earthquake, Hurricane Matthew in 2016, Hurricane Irma in 2017 and now the earthquake that struck in October 2018.

Shame turns to joy for a teacher in Haiti

Marcel Hiluste remembers the shame he felt in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, when his house was completely destroyed and he had no way to provide a safe home for his children. “I felt ashamed in front of my children and in society because the house was destroyed – walls were destroyed and collapsed inside, the tin roof was lifted off and the floor was degraded. There was no house left,” he says.

Marcel founded what is now the public school of Bingo in 1987. In 2011 the school became a public school, which relies on seven volunteer teachers and an appointed principal.

Because of his limited income, Marcel couldn’t afford to build a sturdy house. When Hurricane Matthew struck, his family was living in a house made of mud, wood and rocks dug from the soil. “What I had before, I can’t call it a house,” he says. “It was a shelter. It was not made with good materials, because I didn’t have money to purchase rebar or cement to make blocks.”

Marcel and his family received support through a CWS program supported by the ELCA to build a new home. It is constructed with the supplies that he could only wish to afford earlier. He describes the materials in his home with pride. “I got a lot of rebar to make footings in the foundation, rebar to make three beams. Plus, I got a lot of cement. I got a lot of wood 2x4s. I got tin roofing, I got nails. I got everything I needed.”

Unfortunately, Marcel and his family live on a road that is impossible for trucks to access to drop off the supplies. They had to be unloaded on a larger road farther away, and Marcel went, got them and brought them back to the construction site. It was worth the effort. “If it was only me with my courage, I could not have done this now. I could not have done this at all. I feel really happy – really, really happy. I feel so much joy that there is a smile on my lips,” he says.