In the mountains of Haiti, most families live in tiny houses with dirt floors.
They may have one room or a few small rooms, with as many as 10 or 12 people living together. Living and sleeping on dirt floors, Haitians, especially children, easily contract scabies, worms and other illnesses. These can lead to serious diseases, especially dangerous in this country with little healthcare.
Foundations for Haitians is a nonprofit program that provides families with the materials to put a cement floor in their house to lessen the chance for illness.
The mission of Foundations for Haitians is to raise money for materials so families can install a cement floor in their house and live healthier lives. We do this one home at a time.
The idea for curbing illness with a cement floor was first suggested by Paul Farmer, author of “The Uses of Haiti.”
What We Do
Jim Altepeter of Lafayette, Indiana, who has been working with Haitians since 1990, and Martin Glesil, a Haiti resident and interpreter serving groups visiting Haiti, developed Foundations for Haitians, a program to install cement floors in mountain houses.
Alex Michael and David Jean Baptiste select homes with children most in need. Families prepare their homes – leveling the floor, gathering gravel and rocks, carrying cement from distant storage, and hauling water to fill and re-fill the contractor’s 50-gallon barrel.
A contractor installs the floor. Alex and David inspect the job. Both educate the family on maintenance and sanitation, and they make follow-up visits.
So far, hundreds of floors have been installed. Many more await theirs.
Alex and David travel in the mountains randomly selecting villages that seem to be unserved. They locate houses with dirt floors, seek out a contractor in the area willing and able to do the actual cement work, and meet with the family and the contractor. The family is told how to prepare their house in terms of stone and gravel, which they are responsible for gathering. They then purchase cement wherever it is most accessible. The cement is delivered to a central location and the family transports it to their home.