Elvis Dumervil took his first trip to Haiti not only to see where his mother and ancestors came from, but also to see first-hand how his rebuilding effort is helping a nation that is struggling six years removed from a catastrophic earthquake.
The Baltimore Ravens linebacker is building 58 houses for those in need in Haiti — which corresponds with his jersey number — in an effort to raise support for a country where 85,000 are still homeless due to the earthquake and 200,000 more are living in slum tents. This project will cost Dumervil $377,000, or $6,500 per house.
Last weekend, Dumervil accompanied New Story Charity to see the first families move from the slums into their newly built homes in Bercy, Haiti.
“My greatest feeling beside my wife and my daughter is hitting the quarterback. This is up there,” Dumervil said of the experience. “It was such a fulfilling moment to see happiness and see people appreciate a 600-square foot little room in their house. It just changes your whole perspective and how fortunate we are. It’s humbling.”
Haiti touches close to home for Dumervil: His mother lived there for 21 years before leaving for the United States; and he was able to get his grandmother out of the country just before the 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit in January 2010.
After that tragedy, Dumervil was on national television urging people to send donations. But based on his visit there, he is skeptical about the amount of funds that got to Haiti. He was disgusted with the amount of people who are living in slum tents surrounded by trash and who have no access to toilets.
“I don’t know how much was actually given to those people, but not all of it,” Dumervil said. “Now I’m in a position with my own capital resources to negotiate with certain people and make sure that I can put action to my words and start doing things from my standpoint before asking people for money and help for the cause.”
There are 24 houses already built by Dumervil’s project, and Mission of Hope is helping with the selection of families for the new housing.
Many of the houses reminded Dumervil of the close quarters in Little Haiti, a section in Miami where Dumervil went to elementary school and middle school. Dumervil, his mother and his brother all lived in a one-bedroom apartment that they rented from a church member.
“Going [to Haiti] really brought up a lot of memories from my childhood that I really don’t talk about a lot,” Dumervil said. “My mom taught me, ‘In life, you don’t feel sorry for yourself. If you want something, you have to earn it.'”
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SOURCE: ESPN – Jamison Hensley