We wanted to help after the earthquake in Haiti, but didn't quite know what to do -- so we just went to figure it out.
Now, our disclaimer is that we've been doing this sort of thing for a long time, and definitely don't recommend travel to a disaster area - unless you are properly trained and have a specific group to meet and work with. That being said, after making all the necessary arrangements, we arrived in Jacmel and started looking around.
SCHOOLS AND CLEAN WATER
We mobilized on the south coast of Haiti after the January earthquake, and have since rebuilt two schools - while providing clean water systems to hundreds of families - and we're just getting started...
We were incredibly fortunate to have made contact with an amazing group living and working in Jacmel before we arrived, and made lifelong friends with the Pyes and Mangines at Joy in Hope. While there, Guerrilla Aid founder Barton Brooks wrote about these amazing people and their invaluable help to our efforts - highlighted in this article at Oprah.com.
We began our search in Jacmel and quickly realized that clean water was by far the greatest immediate need. We started asking around, and while working at the airport met a representative from a company that built and distributed personal water filters from the Dominican Republic. We put out the call and within a week placed our order for filters - hundreds of families would get sustainable clean water within a few weeks!
While working with Sarah Wallace to distribute clean water filters in Cité, we came across a school that had been completely destroyed. After learning that it had no government support and no funds to rebuild (but had a willing community and teachers), we decided to take on the project.
We set out to raise funds to complete this school, and within a few weeks we were under construction - actually finishing in record time with the help of numerous volunteers and locals. This school will serve hundreds of children during the day, will be a community center in the afternoons and evenings, and will be a shelter for families who lost their homes to sleep in at night.
We have since completed a second building under the same model - more kids in school and providing another community with a safe place to gather and sleep.
For those of you who have ever doubted the ability of one person (or a small group of people) to change the world - after a billion dollars was raised for Haiti (with you helping us raise a mere .00025 of that), our school in Cité was the first to be rebuilt and reopen in the entire country.
Yes, a small group of people can make a big difference - we owe a huge thank you to our dear friends and partners in Jacmel - Nick and Gwenn Mangine, Danny and Leann Pye, Sarah Wallace, and our on site volunteers Andrew Treleaven and Ryan Seguin - as well as all of you who contributed to make it possible...