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BV Pork Producers host grill-out to purchase SafeTHomes for Haiti

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Since strong demand remains for housing in Haiti, the BV County Pork Producers will be hosting a fundraiser grill-out Saturday to fund purchase of additional Sukup SafeTHomes. BV County Pork Producers, Global Compassion Network, friends and familiy assembled one of the homes last week in Fareway's parking lot, where the fundraiser will be held. /Photo by Ashley Miller
Late last week, many helping hands made light work as Buena Vista County Pork Producers, Global Compassion Network, friends and family constructed a metal earthquake-proof home in Fareway's parking lot in anticipation of a fundraiser this weekend.

Proceeds from the BV County Pork Producers' pork burger grill-out in Fareway's parking lot on Saturday, Aug. 18 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. will go towards the purchase of metal grain bin homes, which aim to reduce Haiti's homeless population following the 2010 earthquake.

"This is a way we can help by doing what we can for the effort in Haiti," said Randy Richter, BV County Pork Producers.

Since 2011, 38 SafeTHomes have been constructed in the Village of Hope, a four and a half acre "neighborhood" near Les Cayes. Dedicated to domestic and international disaster relief, Global Compassion Network, created by Ken and Jill DeYoung of Laurens, and four other individuals from Clear Lake and Garner, has overseen the project.

Additionally, the Iowa Soybean Association has pledged $1,000 in meals to be shipped with each home.

Manufactured by Sheffield-based Sukup, SafeTHomes are made from modified 18-foot grain bins, with a double roof to deflect heat and collect water. Homes, equipped with solar panels and locking windows, can last up to 75 years, accommodate up to 10 people, sustain 130 mile per hour winds and withstand earthquakes. Ballast boxes, which are filled with sand or rock to stabilize homes, can also be used for planting vegetables.

Each home costs $5,700, with an additional $1,000 needed for shipping and concrete flooring. Once in Haiti, homes are assembled on-site with simple hand tools, taking a team of four approximately 10 hours to put together.

Over two years after the earthquake, a strong demand remains for housing.

"So many Haitians are now asking for the homes," said Dennis Anderson, Global Compassion Network, who noted another SafeTHome village will likely be built in the future. "They're living in anything they can find."

With tents and mud dwellings now commonplace in the recovering country, responses to the SafeTHomes have been touching and heart-wrenching at times.

Upon visiting his sister's new SafeThome, a brother burst into tears because he was so thankful, Anderson said.

While Haiti's capital, Port Au Prince, continues to improve as streets are cleared, rubble hauled away and rebuilding beginning, tents and open sewer remain, as well as an 80 percent unemployment rate. Electricity and running water is scarce.

"It's shocking living conditions," Anderson explained. "It was horrible before the earthquake; now it's terrible."

Despite lackluster living conditions, he said Haitians overall remain happy and are enjoying life, and appreciate Iowa's support.

"It's great being a part of this," Anderson said. "I'm glad to see Iowans joining in to make a difference in Haiti."

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