How did you get involved with Habitat for Humanity?
HAYES: I applied for the opportunity to travel to Haiti with President Jimmy Carter & Habitat for Humanity. It was a screening and selection process and I made the cut.
When did President Carter and Rosalynn Carter get involved with Habitat for Humanity? Was it in response to the earthquake in 2010?
HAYES: President & Mrs. Carter got involved with Habitat for Humanity in 1984 in to help renovate a building in NYC with families in need of affordable housing.
When you arrived in Haiti last year, what was the state of the country?
HAYES: It was still very ravished and neglected. Haiti was already the most poor destination on the planet prior to the earthquake, so the earthquake only made things tremendously worse. Haiti needs a lot of support and attention. Every little bit helps.
Describe your typical day during your time in Haiti
HAYES: My typical day in Haiti would begin around 5am, wake-up, freshen-up, breakfast, then head to the work site. On-site building all day, quitting time at 5pm, head back to the camp site, check email, dinner, then shower. Finally, group activity at night, then lights out. It was a tough week, but we bonded with other volunteers and worked towards the greater good. Very rewarding experience!
What was the response of the Haitians upon your arrival and the work you did?
HAYES: Most of the Haitians were receptive to our visit and glad to see us there. However, there were some that were not so keen on our visit. There was some resentment detected, but overall the experience was probably appreciated after we left.
What’s next for the project?
HAYES: The project continues later this year with the completion of a goal of 500 homes in the area where we began building 150 homes. I will be joining the mission for the second time later this year.
If you could inform people about natural disasters and the long-term after effects what would
you tell them?
HAYES: Because natural disasters are something you can always predict, it can have devastating effects. There is support needed for those that lose loved ones and personal possessions including shelter and necessary items to survive. It’s really an unbelievable occurrence and empathy is really all you can feel without being present in the actual circumstance because it’s so surreal.
How can people get involved?
HAYES: You can always support by donation to habitat for humanity international. www.habitat.org
Also, please raise awareness about Haiti. Travel there. Spend money on the country and show your support. Haiti needs your help.