On January 12, 2010, Haiti suffered a devastating earthquake, with a death toll estimated at 220,000. The capital city, Port-au-Prince, was effectively levelled. Around 1.5 million Haitians were left homeless, Cholera and other diseases thrived and many people lived in make shift camps, struggling to find enough food and clean water.
Five years on and things are improving but progress is still slow. Through the work of the Haitian government, Charities and NGOs there has been investment in rebuilding homes and businesses, and attempts to build a better infrastructure for the country. However international donations have been reducing over the last 3 years as Haiti fades form the public eye and the perceived urgency declines. However Haiti is still one of the poorest countries in the world, with around 60 % of the population living below the national (US) poverty line and half of them below the extreme poverty line. Although many of those living in shelters in the capital have been rehomed, many still live in extreme circumstances, particularly in the rural areas, and in desperate poverty.
Hope House – The Start
In the aftermath of the earthquake, with so many displaced people, Yvrose, a Haitian born teacher, and her husband Pierre-Richard felt strongly that God was calling them to work amongst the poor and needy in their home land. They set about trying to reunite displaced and orphaned children with members of their families. When all avenues were exhausted, they looked after the children themselves and set up a Home which currently offers a safe and loving family environment for around 30 children aged from a few months up to teenagers. They live by Faith, trusting God to provide their most basic needs of food, shelter and clean water.
Initially they lived in a tent but this was destroyed by the hurricane later in 2010. This was a new low. Pierre Richard captured the magnitude of this time in this photo. Later they lived in a one roomed house with no water, sanitation or electricity. In 2013 the organisation ‘Victory Compassion’ provided three small metal prefab buildings and in 2014 a house next to the site was purchased through a private donation. They also now have an indoor kitchen, where school meals are also cooked.
Yvrose and Pierre Richard live by faith, and have no regular financial support of their own. In 2013 the UK charity Hope House Haiti (UK) was set up with the aim of providing some regular support for them, from fundraising and donations, as well as sourcing professional advice where needed.
Yvrose and Pierre Richard have established a school in their remote region of Haiti, at the foot of the mountains, which is aimed at the poorest children in the community, offering a free education and a meal for each child – often the only meal the children get that day. Yvrose is a qualified teacher with twenty years teaching experience in America. Yvrose and Pierre Richard are passionate about education, believing that this provides a basis to alleviate poverty and impact the nation for future generations. Yvrose has adopted a policy that no child should be left behind in terms of education; all of the children who attend Hope House Christian Academy are likely to be the first in their family to have received an education. There are now around 700 children attending the school each day. They employ more than 20 teachers, 1 director and an administrator, plus cooks and a caretaker.
Initially the school met in tents but they deteriorated in the sun and hurricanes left them no longer usable. They are now housed in an open sided, metal framed barn type building. Donations from England kindly purchased wood in 2013 and Pierre Richard taught the older boys to make the wooden benches as previously the children sat on rocks and concrete blocks!
Many of the children are siblings but each child has their own story of past neglect or such great a desire for education that they suffered great hardship just to get to school, some walk hours to get there, sleep in the fields during the week and go without food.
Adult Literacy Classes
Evening school is provided at Hope House and also in the satellite school in the mountains to provide essential language and literacy classes for adults. They have proved extremely popular.