A new home and a new business after two years under canvas

Published: 11 January 2013 9:00 CET

By Lorraine Taggart

Three years after the earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince in Haiti, attempts to assist those living in camps to find or build new homes and livelihoods continue.

After her home was destroyed in the earthquake, and with no place to sleep, Rose Thelene, 52, came to the field of Camp Dadadou. “There were times when I used to cry myself to sleep because I didn’t know where my life was going and didn’t even know if I was going to get out of the camp.”

Rose lives alone. Her children are all grown-up with families of their own, and were unable to take her in after the earthquake, although they did bring her food and supplies when they were able to.

Always independent, Rose found it hard to have to rely on the goodwill of people and humanitarian organizations for everything that she needed.

“I am used to working and having a small business. But here in the camp I don’t even think about things like starting a business or finding a job because food, water, and shelter are always on my mind. How can I think about those things when I don’t know whether or not I will have enough food tomorrow?” she says.

In May 2012, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in partnership with the Haiti Red Cross Society, began a programme to move people out of Dadadou and offering residents the opportunity to find a home in Port-au-Prince or to move back to the provinces.

Rose Thelene was given what she had been hoping for the past two years: a way out of the camp.

She found a house not far from the camp and moved there within a week of receiving the $500 US dollar grant from the IFRC.

With the grant, Rose was able to start a small business selling food products such as rice, milk, and beans. She hopes that this business will grow and she will one day regain the life she once had.

“Now I can think of other things,” she says. “I can think about how I am going to get my life back together and how I am going to pay the rent next year. But it feels good to be out of the camp and not getting wet by the rain and burned by the sun.”