Team Cayman for Haiti will be flying to Haiti this Saturday, October 29, to spend a week helping to build homes for some of the 1.5 million Haitians left homeless following the massive earthquake in January 2010.
The group originally was due to go to Haiti a year ago, but a week before their scheduled departure a cholera epidemic broke out and the trip was postponed when authorities in Cayman advised against all nonessential travel to the region.
Team Cayman for Haiti was originally made up of a group of Butterfield Bank employees, but during the past year the whole bank was involved in fundraising efforts. A year later, some team members have taken up employment elsewhere. But their commitment to lending a helping hand in Haiti has not wavered and some will be giving up vacation time to work one week in Haitian communities.
The group already had raised the necessary funds through various in-house and community initiatives prior to the trip planned last year.
“We still have more money left over in our bank account now, so we’re just going to go over, make sure we don’t have any incidentals and when we get back we will donate everything that’s left,” said Kat Walsh, one of team members.
Local businesses have come forward to support their efforts with Uncle Bill’s donating camping gear, Cayman Airways providing free flights to and from Miami, and George Town hospital providing free immunisations.
Five of the seven team members will travel to Haiti where they will join about 300 volunteers from Ireland and a small group from the United States, all working for Haven, an Irish non-governmental organisation which carries out relief work in Haiti. They will be helping build three-room homes in a community close to the epicentre of the 2010 earthquake, and which suffered worse damage than the capital, Port au Prince, with 85 per cent of buildings destroyed. The new buildings are designed to withstand hurricanes and earthquakes.
Taura Ebanks, one of the team members, said they had thoroughly researched how and where their time and money would be spent with different organisations working in Haiti. Haven, which has goals beyond simply rebuilding, seemed the ideal fit, she said.
“This particular organisation, they actually create employment for the Haitian community,” Ms Ebanks said. “These people are not just sitting around waiting for their houses to be built. They are working alongside [volunteers] and learning skills as well.”
Team Cayman will be staying in a camp site and living in basic conditions while there. Each person has a specified role in the building houses.