Lion May 2014 : Page 40

Bernadette Octavius and her grandson stand outside their former home, damaged by the earthquake and now used for storage. Octavius lived with her family in this tent in her garden after the earthquake. construction sites. Today, whenever he strolls through the community, residents flock to him to shake hands or update him on their lives. “This is the first time such a project came to our area,” he says. “Everyone is happy. It’s a good project.” An improvement over what they had, the Lions’ homes account for venti-lation, privacy and waste management. “We just asked that people be given a little dignity,” says Pierre-Richard Duchemin, the project leader for Haitian Lions. Many Haitians who lost homes in the earthquake still live in “t-shelters,” temporary shelters built from plywood. These are likely to become permanent as NGOs pull up stakes and apply resources to more recent disasters. Compared to the period after the earthquake, daily life in Blanchard is re-markably more upbeat. Cows and goats graze contentedly. Children on bicycles raise clouds of dust. Edriemps, Joseph’s brother, is high up in a coconut tree, releasing the fruit with a sweep of his machete. “There are many problems in Port-au-Prince,” concedes Mimose Joseph. “But there is only hope for the future. The fear is behind us now.” Down the road Bernadette Octavius, a fiery 52-year-old with a deep, easy laugh, has just returned from the fields where she raises goats, chickens, cows and pigs. She ambles by a small hut, par-tially destroyed, that now contains feed. That was her home before the earth-quake. Nearby is the tent she subse-quently shared after the disaster with her husband and three grandchildren. Fevers raged within her when the tent was home. The illness is gone now that she lives in a Lions’ home. “It’s very beautiful,” she says of her home. “Every day I’m busy raising animals and working in the gardens. I love it.” –Adapted by Jay Copp from a story in the Norwegian LION

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