Stories of Change

Simeus (left) at 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.

A new house means confidence for a teacher in Haiti

“In Hurricane Matthew, my house was completely destroyed. I couldn’t even live there. We couldn’t live like that.”

Simeus Elpeuve is a teacher at the public school of Diondion in Haiti. When Hurricane Matthew hit in 2016, his family was living in a house made of rocks, with a partly concrete floor and a tin roof. Its fragile structure was no match for the storm.

Because of his limited teacher salary, Simeus says that it would take years to be able to rebuild. His family was prioritized to receive a new house as part of a CWS program supported by the ELCA.

“When I look at what we had before, compared to this, it is completely different,” Simeus says. “When we look at the construction materials that are in this one, it makes us feel satisfied. At the same time, hats off to this institution that helps people through construction. For example, as teachers, even if we were to work for two, three or even five years, we wouldn’t be able to realize such construction. We could build a house this size, but something like this would be very difficult for us on our salary.”

Simeus says that there’s no way he could afford the house on teacher’s salary. Now, though, he has a house that he can be proud of and one that can inspire his students to value education. His students know him as their teacher, but when they saw his old living situation he says they didn’t have much respect for him. Today they see a nice, sturdy home, and children for years to come will have more respect for him because of it. “I know that what I’m looking at here is not just for five or six years, or 10-15 years. I think it has a durability – a very long lifespan. That means that for children who are still to come – who haven’t even been born yet – they will always understand that this is the house of Teacher Elpreuve.”

For Simeus and his family, this house means more than just a home. It means peace of mind for years to come and safe haven to weather whatever storms will rage in the years to come. It means that students in the community can find a role model in their teacher. And it means that he can continue to work as a teacher to provide for his family.