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Christian Aid Week
Together we're stronger than the storms
Marcelin Abellard and his daughters Ketia, Linda and Keshna still haven’t recovered from Hurricane Matthew. Marcelin doesn’t expect them to survive if another hurricane hits.
More than a year after they lost their home they’re still living in a 2x2m windowless concrete block.
Vilia Odino lost her home in the earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010 too. but Christian Aid’s partner KORAL built her a new disaster-resistant home. Here she is with two of her sons.
Vilia sheltered 54 people when Hurricane Matthew hit, because her house was the strongest in the area.
This Christian Aid Week, 13-19 May, we'll be handing out CA envelopes in church for your donations.
Will you join us? Only £210 is enough to pay for two days’ construction training for a local builder in Haiti. The builder can then build secure, comfortable homes for people like Marcelin, giving them a safe place to weather the next disaster, and a fighting chance to build a better life.
Thanks to the lessons she learnt from her mother, Vilia feels well rounded, strong and alive. But sometimes strength isn’t enough. Sometimes you need someone else in your corner too.
Vilia and her family lived in Port-au-Prince when the earthquake hit. Vilia was on her way home when she heard people running and shouting. She saw wires fall and houses crumble. The streets were confusing and terrifying. She couldn’t even recognise her home or neighbourhood. As she searched for her home and for her mother, she had to step over bodies lying on the ground.
Vilia never found her mother. Her mum was an incredibly strong woman, but strength alone wasn’t enough to save her from the earthquake. Vilia never got to see her mother again, and still doesn’t know how she died. It’s still a deeply painful source of sadness for her.
Bereaved and homeless, Vilia went back to her hometown with her husband and seven children. But life was a struggle, and she had nowhere safe to stay.
A home as strong as Vilia
Christian Aid’s partner KORAL saw how dire Vilia’s situation was, and reached out to help her. They built her a new home, safe and strong enough to stand up to natural disasters. Vilia will never forget her mother, but our help has allowed her to move on from the other things she lost.
The new house made Vilia incredibly happy, but it’s done more than that. It’s been a safe haven for dozens of people when they needed it most.
On that terrifying night when Hurricane Matthew hit, Vilia’s neighbours quickly realised that her house was the only one in the area sturdy enough to cope with the hurricane. One by one, they fled to her house and she welcomed them in. As the storm raged on, she shared food and a safe shelter for several days.
Despite the ferocity of the hurricane, her house lost only one roof panel and wasn’t damaged in any other way. Many other homes in the area were totally destroyed.
Vilia’s crops and livestock were swept away, but KORAL helped her with a water filter and seeds for beans, sweet potatoes, yams and plantain. This meant Vilia could start to rebuild with crops that help soil retention, helping to protect her crops in the future. Not long after Hurricane Matthew, another tragedy struck and Vilia’s husband passed away. This time, KORAL gave her the cash she urgently needed to keep sending her children to school.
During Hurricane Matthew, Vilia and her house were at the heart of the community, and it’s the same in good times. She’s the president of her marching band, which plays music using basic drums and other instruments at weddings, funerals and during communal farming. But they do more than play music: as a group of marginalised people, they pool their resources, forming something between a credit union and a community insurance policy. They work on each other’s land and help out when someone is sick or dies.
Vilia is incredibly grateful for the help she’s received, and she’s used it to help others. But she knows there are still many others in her neighbourhood who are struggling. She wishes we could help them too.
Could you give this Christian Aid Week to help more people like Vilia?
Christian Aid Week brings tens of thousands of Christians together to achieve incredible things with some of the poorest people in the world. We need you to join us so we can do more, and make sure that none of Vilia’s neighbours have to fear the next hurricane.
Together, we’re stronger than the storms.
Villa's story istaken from the Christian Aid Week website