Life in “Camp Kid” is No Life for Kids
Written by John Hagerman
10-year-old Stephane Jerome has been living with his parents and sister in Camp Kid in Port au Prince Haiti since shortly after the January 2010 earthquake that devastated the country. Their lives are dramatically different than what it was like prior to the quake.
Before the quake Stephane’s father Frantz worked for the Red Cross and his mother, Rene Marie Helene worked at the police department. The lived in a two-bedroom apartment and both children attended school. Everything changed after the quake.
Alex Herbig, an Intern in Haiti working with World Wide Village, Inc. (WWV) met Stephane at a mission event he was helping with nearby.
“When I asked Stephane to describe his experience during the earthquake,” Alex said, “he couldn’t look at me. He looked like he was about to cry and all he could say was, ‘It was hard. I was scared. I was just scared.” After a moment’s pause, Alex said, “The look on his face was one of the most difficult thing I’d ever witnessed.”
Alex visited the Jerome family in their new home. He describes it as “a 20’ by 20’ room with one mattress, one table and a couple of plastic chairs. The home was constructed from tin and tarps.
The two children share the mattress and the parents sleep on the floor. When it rains the roof provides little protection from the water and an inch or two quickly fills the ground. “I hate to think what will happen to the family, and to others living in Camp Kid, if a hurricane comes ashore or, God forbid, another earthquake strikes,” Alex noted.
The ‘streets’ of Camp Kid are narrow and strewn with garbage and debris. There is no drainage and little sanitation. Children, most no longer able to attend school, are forced to play in any nook or cranny they can find, when they are not trying to find food or money to support the family.
It would be nice to say that Stephane’s family is the exception, but they aren’t. There are hundreds of thousands of other families in very similar situations. The need is overwhelming but organizations like World Wide Village are working hard to provide solutions to the permanent housing problem.
With a $125,000 donation from an anonymous donor, World Wide Village has launched the “Family Housing Fund.” Our approach is an economically sustainable and renewable model for building homes that is built around collaboration between the new homeowners, outside partners and supporters, and the staff of World Wide Village.
With WWV’s experience and staff in Haiti we are able to build a home for a small family for as little as $4890. We are asking groups and companies to commit to donating the cost of construction for at least one home to the “Family Housing Fund” and to sending a team to Haiti to help in its construction. A side benefit of the building trips is that the teams work with local labor and teach them quality skills they can use to build a stronger future.
“Homeowners earn their new homes in our model,” says Randy Mortensen, President of World Wide Village. “By contributing labor or services, and by repaying a loan, the homeowner has a direct stake in the home and in improving the community. And the loan payments allow us to recycle the money into helping even more families move from tents and sheds into permanent housing.”
To find out how you can support the World Wide Village Family Housing Fund, or for help putting together a mission trip to Haiti to help build a home, contact the Team Coordinator at WWV. The Coordinator can be contacted via phone at 651-777-6908, or via email. You can learn more about World Wide Village by visiting their website at www.worldwidevillage.org.