Inaugurated the first mutual aid housing co-operative in Haiti
On April 14, 23 families, members of Kooperativ Lojman Men nan Men -KOLOMM- (Hand-in-Hand Housing Co-operative), received the keys to their homes from representatives of Cooperatives of the Americas, COOMEVA of Colombia, Fundasal of El Salvador, We Effect and Heifer, cooperation agencies from Sweden and the United States respectively, America Solidarity of Chile, GARR of Haiti and local authorities of Lascahobas, the commune where the new cooperative is located.
All families making up the cooperative lost their homes during the earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010. Moved by the magnitude of the tragedy, the international co-operative movement represented by the International Co-operative Alliance began a solidarity campaign to raise funds to aid the victims and contribute to the country’s reconstruction. Approximately $400,000 was allocated to the promotion, technical assistance and construction of 23 homes.
Before handing over the keys to new homes, Maria Eugenia Perez, President of COOMEVA, recalled that the project was made possible thanks to the contribution of cooperatives from Japan, Malaysia, Cyprus, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, UK and Czech Republic, among others countries. In the case of COOMEVA, workers and officials of the organization donated a day’s salary to the campaign for which they feel very close to the families of KOLOMM.
Ramón Imperial, on behalf of the International Cooperative Alliance, congratulated the co-operators for their great effort and work on building their homes, while encouraging them to further strengthen the cooperative to face the new challenges that lie ahead, such as the provision of water and electricity. The cooperative is the way to solve these problems, as the Haitian government and the state lack the capacity to meet the basic needs and rights of its people.
In an emotional speech, Manuel Mariño, Director of Cooperatives of the Americas, recalled the early meetings with families in 2011 to begin planning the building project, when the goal of decent houses seemed a distant dream and skepticism about a better future prevailed. He also stressed the importance of cooperatives to improve the living conditions of the Haitian people and thanked the support received from Heifer, We Effect, America Solidarity, Fundasal and FUCVAM of Uruguay, an organization that promotes the mutual aid housing model on the continent.
Finally, Wesnel, Laurent and Anelia, on behalf of all the families of KOLOMM, thanked the cooperative movement, GARR and Heifer, among others, for all the support received. During his gratitude address they narrated some inspirational experiences that happened during the process of construction of their homes, which proudly showed to more than a hundred people who attended the inauguration.