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Haiti has long been the poorest country in the western hemisphere. In a country with few building inspectors and poor construction techniques, it was only a matter of time before tragedy struck.

When that tragedy appeared in the form of the January 2010 earthquake, the results were devastating. Thousands of buildings collapsed, killing 200,000 people and leaving well over a million people living in tent camps. The quake impacted some 3 million people in a country of 9 million.

Today, relief efforts are behind Haiti and long-term development is sorely needed, with permanent housing as one of the country's greatest needs and, perhaps, opportunities. We are proud of the work we did in helping to build over 150 simple, yet beautiful and safe homes for Haitian families as a response to the earthquake.

A long-term presence

Now, we are focusing increasingly on the long-term development of the country. With a new project in northern Haiti in the town of Pignon, we are building homes that families pay forward on terms that they can afford -- a no-profit and no-interest loan. The project is led and managed by a local group of dedicated Haitians who recognize the blessings they have been given and want to give back to their community.

Families are also taught basic financial management skills and construction. We purchase all materials locally within Haiti and hire Haitian labor, which creates jobs and supports the local economy. Volunteers from the USA and around the world are also welcome to help through our Global Builders program or by sponsoring Haitian labor.

The impact of our work in Pignon is striking:

Lasting impact: our disaster response legacy

We are also currently wrapping up our work in two locations that served as earthquake-response sites. In these sites and others, we partnered with organizations to build over 150 houses with families in desperate need.

This is our self-sustaining community located in Gressier, near the epicenter of the earthquake and not far from Port-au-Prince. We partnered with Grace International to form a Covenant Partner called Grace Fuller Center for Housing as way to help families move out of tents and into permanent houses.

At the Lambi site, we used 7 acres of land to build 56 homes in the form of 28 duplexes. In addition to housing, we worked to provide improved water, sanitation, job opportunities and civic space. The project had several partners, including Grace International, Lott Carey and the American Baptist Mission Collaboration.

In this community just east of Port-au-Prince, we built small, economical homes in partnership with Homes from the Heart, whose founder Michael Bonderer also has built homes in El Salvador and neighboring countries. The homes are typically about 16 feet-by-16 feet, depending upon the sizes of the lots, which varies. "The recipients of these homes really like them, but they're not fancy," Bonderer said. "But they're shelter and a secure house for people to live in."

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