Habitat in Haiti by Honora Finkelstein (This article was originally published in the “Network of Light News” column in the March 2010 issue of Pathways Magazine of Washington, D.C. ) Among the first groups to respond to the 12 January 2010 7.0-magnitude earthquake in Haiti was Habitat for Humanity, assessing the damage and determining how they could best help survivors pick up the pieces and rebuild. With over a million people affected, the disaster was a major setback for the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, where over half the population survives on less than a dollar a day. Habitat for Humanity has had projects in Haiti for over 26 years, and its first phase of earthquake response was to salvage all usable materials, since it is a place where building supplies are difficult to obtain. The second phase has been to set up transitional shelters that can function as homes for families as well as the bases for improvements and additions over the long term. In late January, the chief executive officer for Habitat, Jonathan Reckford, said, “My visit to Port-au-Prince this week left no doubt that Habitat’s expertise will be needed there for many years to come as the nation struggles to rebuild. We will have a role in the short term and the long. From helping with cleanup starting now, to establishing training and resource centers, to core house construction, we must have a substantial on-the-ground presence helping Haitian families help themselves.”         Among those who pledged support for Habitat’s efforts in Haiti was Grammy Award-winning musician Ricky Martin, both as an in-country volunteer and through the Ricky Martin Foundation, which joined with Habitat to create the RMF/HFH Haiti Recovery Fund. For information on Habitat for Humanity and to donate to the organization as they continue to help people in disaster areas around the rold rebuild their lives, please go to www.habitat.org.