Clelie is one of the newest elders to our program and is the grandmother of two of the boys at Grace Village. Her home was severely damaged from a house fire over a year ago, so she has been living with family in an already over crowded home. This is her home, with layers of burnt tin, tarps, logs and concrete block as a roof to try to keep her belongings safe.
Recently, a team visited her and really wanted to do something to help her.....to give her the dignity of living in the home she owned. This is always a sticky situation....we don't want to give handouts which can rob a person of dignity, create bad expectations of Americans and take away jobs from Haitians. We also have to be careful of making improvements to rented homes, which could cause rent to be increased. Luckily, Clelie owns this home.
Meanwhile, there is this amazing program going on at Grace Village for the older boys (one of Clelie's grandsons included) who are transitioning out of the orphanage. They are learning skills to survive on their own and be contributors to their community. One of the skills they wanted to learn was construction. And what better way to learn, than to put a roof on the home of an elderly person in their community!
While there are challenges with putting a new roof on an old structure, with areas of crumbling and un-level walls, the boys were taught how to problem solve, work as a team, use their resources in the best way possible and how to give back to their community with their time and talents. The investment from Americans was minimal, allowing Haitians to be the ones to give to each other.
Done in the right way, financial giving for something such as a roof, can provide the opportunity Haitians wouldn't otherwise have to help each other. And the daily impact of an elderly woman being able to live in her own home is priceless.....