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MCC and MEDA collaborate to help Haiti’s homeless
July 21, 2010
WINNIPEG, Man. — Haitians left homeless by January’s earthquake are getting construction help from a collaborative venture of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA).
MCC contributed $1.43 million to rebuild and repair about 775 homes of microfinance clients, most of whom are women. MEDA will administer and monitor the 18-month project, expected to be completed on Nov. 30, 2011
Recipients of the assistance are clients of Fonkoze, the country’s leading microfinance provider, with 46,000 microloan clients. Fonkoze has been a long-term partner of MCC and MEDA.
The earthquake not only claimed more than 200,000 lives (including five Fonkoze staff members), it destroyed an estimated 105,000 homes and damaged more than 200,000. Nearly 3,000 Fonkoze clients reported not being able to stay in their houses due to destruction or severe damage.
“Most of Fonkoze’s clients cannot afford a loan to build a house,” said Julie Redfern, MEDA’s vice president of financial services and a member of the Fonkoze board. “As a result, they will either totally decapitalize to invest in a decent house or endure in substandard and unsafe shelter until they can, bit by bit in maybe 10 years, get back to the living conditions they had before the earthquake.”
Fonkoze will coordinate the training of community teams of masons and carpenters in techniques for building and repairing homes that will be earthquake and hurricane resistant. Those teams will predominantly do the building and repair in their home communities, north and south of Port-au-Prince.
All recipients of the construction assistance, plus about 400 more people, will receive training in home ownership and maintenance.
Home repairs are estimated to cost $600, and rebuilding would average $3,000.
Both MCC and MEDA have long histories in Haiti. MCC, whose Haiti work dates back to 1958, responded after the earthquake with emergency food distribution and relief supplies, water and sanitation assistance and trauma healing.
It was one of the first organizations to send engineers to examine orphanages, hospitals and housing and help people decide whether they could move back into their homes.
MEDA began its microfinance work in Haiti in 1986 and in 2004 turned it over to rapidly growing Fonkoze so its clients could access a wider range of financial services. It remains an investor and active partner of Fonkoze, providing governance as a board member and through advisory services for microfinance. MEDA is managing a $4.5-million grant from The MasterCard Foundation to help Fonkoze rebuild its own facilities and help 70,000 clients improve their livelihoods.
“Fonkoze is a well-known, well-recognized partner,” said William Reimer, MCC’s director of food, disaster and material resources. “This is a great opportunity for MCC and MEDA to collaborate and work together with Fonkoze. It gives us a chance to build on our combined experience and extend our reach in responding to a very urgent situation.”
Allan Sauder, MEDA’s president added: “We’re delighted that MCC is joining with us in this effort to build on our long-term partnership with Fonkoze to quickly mobilize housing support to many hundreds of clients. Most of these clients are women, and we believe this is an excellent way to directly benefit the many families these women support.
“Moreover, with so many aid groups at work in Haiti, the potential for chaos is great, and collaborating with a fellow Mennonite agency helps us send a signal that aid can be coordinated efficiently and effectively,” he said.