A poor neighbourhood shows the damage after an earthquake measuring 7 plus on the Richter scale rocked Port au Prince Haiti just before 5 pm, January 12, 2010. Photo Source: Wikipedia Commons

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?”.

Haitians set up impromtu tent cities thorough the capital after the 2010 earthquake. Photo source: Wikipedia Commons.

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. 


  1. So thrilled to hear you write about Habitat’s work in Haiti. I have not been overt in my references, but my Sara directed Habitat’s response to the earthquake in Haiti. That’s why we lived there for a year. Nothing is dearer to my heart than Habitat Haiti–NOTHING. ALso, I did commnuications for the Carter Work Project in 2009–the Mekong Build. We were at the Vietnam location.

    By the way, I don’t know exactly when, but I think my Huffington Post piece witll appear today or tomorrow. I will let you know asap!


    1. Thanks Kathy! I should have forwarded you the info on the Twitter party. I remember all your posts and did know that Sara had worked for Habitat. Do you feel like you want to go back? So much work to be done! SHare the link on HP and I will for sure tweet it! 🙂

  2. This is a thoughtful piece and one I wish all of us would take to heart… I couldn’t help but ask as I read this, a question that another friend and I discussed recently. What happened to all the billions of dollars that were raised and donated to Haiti? Rebuilding a community ought to be about improving conditions, supporting and helping all get on their feet… I still ask that question; albeit a rhetorical one because I know part of the answer… 🙁

    1. That is such a good question. I wish I only knew. Sadly enough I’m sure there is corruption involved….probably a lot. A good question to ask someone more in the know than me. I have read a lot about the problems with land tenure in Haiti. There is a lot to be done.

      1. Great blog post by Amy Wilentz on the culture of kidnapping in Haiti–published today–one of the many reasons folks are reluctant to hand over funds that will largely be controlled by the Haitian elite. Note in this piece that relatives of Martelly were involved in this particular kidnapping ring. This also makes it very expensive to work in Haiti–because of the security issues involved. We had two armed guards at our house around the clock. At any rate, Wilentz writes brilliantly about Haiti and has for decades.

  3. If I could chime in here– Haiti has only seen a portion of what was pledged. Important to note the difference between “donated” and “pledged.” The US and other world governments were waiting to see what would happen in the wake of the 2011 presidential election in Haiti and are still assessing Martelley’s (current president) administration, even now a year later. For example, in the wake of those elections both Aristide and Baby Doc returned from exile within months of one another. Plus, Habitat and other countries face difficulty building in Haiti because of land tenure issues. Jonathon Reckford, Habitat’s CEO, just tweeted about this a few days ago.

    1. Awesome Kathy! Thanks for chiming in. I thought I had heard that the pledges were much different than the actual donations. I am no expert so I’m glad you shed some light on Haiti. 🙂 I have read about the land tenure and it doesn’t sound like a very good situation. I truly hope the world takes notice and helps Haiti.

      1. The world did rally to help Haiti and now efforts must be made internally to rebuild the infrastructure… Good can come of it if the leadership remember that a rebuilt Haiti will benefit all Haitians for generations to come. Only time will tell.

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