Last week I participated in a live Twitter Party on behalf of Mom Bloggers for Social Good for Habitat for Humanity’s work in Haiti. If you have never done a Twitter party or have no idea what I’m even talking about, let me explain. Basically a group of people interested in learning about a topic jump onto Twitter at a designated point in time and use the same hashtag (ours was #HabitatinHaiti). A good Twitter party is well-managed and moderated by asking the attendees a group of questions which creates dialogue. It is a fantastic way to learn more about a given topic, spread the word and be an armchair advocate.
I learned a lot last week during our Habitat for Haiti chat but what stuck with me most was one question in particular: “What is community?”.
As Haiti is trying to desperately rebuild herself after a catastrophic earthquake in 2010 and Hurricane Sandy wiped out much progress that had been made, over 500,000 Haitians remain homeless. As one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti is sadly often forgotten.
When we look at Haiti and see thousands of people living in desperation inside lurid tent communities, it is worth asking: What is community and why is it important to build not shelter but homes?
What first pops into one’s mind is that homes offer safety, protection and security not only from the elements but from the danger that lurks after people lost everything and live within the poverty-stricken confines of a plastic tent. However, if we examine this question further as we did during the Habitat for Haiti twitter chat, we found that a sense of community offers much more. A community offers a place where people feel good to live, safe, secure and have a sense of pride and belonging. Furthermore, it can be argued that a community offers a place in which people work together for the common good to build an economy, schools, and a sense of compassion for one another. After disasters, housing plays a central role in rebuilding and strengthening communities. That is why organizations like Habitat for Humanity are so critical.
Take a moment to think about your own community. What does it mean to you? How do you feel connected? What does your home mean to you and what would you do if you lost it?
The Twitter chat was in honor of the 2012 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project that is returning to Haiti this November for the second year in a row to construct another 100 homes. You can follow along via Twitter at #HabitatinHaiti.
For a beautiful slideshow on Habitat’s rebuilding in Haiti click here. http://www.habitat.org/lc/photogallery/HaitiSlideshowUpdate/index.html
Habitat for Humanity has over 27 years working in Haiti. To learn more or to donate, click here.