Three years ago, Haiti was knocked to its knees by a magnitude 7 earthquake.
Hundreds of thousands of people died and the poorest country in the western hemisphere began to suffer like never before. To their rescue came the world, including people from Charlottesville.
NBC29's Henry Graff was with Building Goodness Foundation volunteers in 2010, and again a year later. This past weekend they invited him as their guest to come back to Haiti one more time, to see what's been accomplished and what still needs to be done.
A simple service high atop a mountain marked the anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti. In the blink of an eye, 300,000 people were killed. With time, things are changing in the third-world country.
"There are a lot of things we can do. We just need someone that can teach us what we have to do," said Daniel Germain, who is from Thomassin, Haiti.
In Port-au-Prince, the once-endless piles of rubble have been removed from the capitol.
Tent cities that used to occupy public plazas are now gone. International money has paid for infrastructure upgrades such as fixing dilapidated main roads. Schools are being rebuilt.
"Haiti has always been a difficult place to live," said Kelly Eplee, executive director of BGF.
From the outside, many might say things in Haiti haven't changed in the last three years. But people there might disagree. They say things have definitely changed and the lives of Haitians have improved.
"Haiti is going to get rebuilt one way or another. Americans will have a small role in that," said Ethan Tate, director of volunteer programs for BGF. That's because organizations like Charlottesville's Building Goodness Foundation are teaching Haitians how to do the work.
"Haiti needs a new construction plan," Germain said.
He says that plan is unfolding right now. Like many in his generation, Germain says the Haiti that has emerged from the disaster is the best he's ever seen and will only get better with more help.
"If we have those companies that can come give us better education, I think Haiti would be better," he said.
Three years later, Haiti continues to move forward. The presidential palace, which crumbled in the earthquake, has been demolished and will be rebuilt.
"The fact that there is still hope here and people are finding hope and providing for themselves is a statement to their resilience," Eplee said.
But make no mistake; Haiti is still a difficult place to live. Most of the population is in extreme poverty. Clean water and electricity are hard to come by.
Wednesday night, NBC29 will take you to the dedication ceremonies for two schools built by BGF. You can also hear from the students who now have a new future because of the education they will be getting.
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