Posted at: 02/25/2013 9:45 PM
Updated at: 02/25/2013 10:42 PM
By: John Doetkott
(ABC 6 News) -- It's been a little more than three years since a large earthquake devastated the Caribbean island of Haiti and in that time humanitarian efforts have made great progress to rebuild the country, but the work isn't done yet.
Haiti was an impoverished country long before the 2010 earthquake, but the devastation the earthquake caused set the country back even further, and only increased the number of people in need of aid.
Which is why a special group from Garner, Iowa, joined together to help.
“You have to be there. And you can sense it, you can see it, and you can feel it,” said volunteer Dennis Hrubes. “Poverty is really bad there."
From four different churches with four different faiths, the 13 member team seemed an unlikely bunch, but quickly grew close.
“Most of us knew each other, but a lot of us came as strangers or acquaintances, and we left a family,” said volunteer Vallie Martin.
Working with the Global Compassion Network, the group helped build low-cost homes designed by Sukup Manufacturing, headquartered not far away in Sheffield, Iowa.
Volunteers said the modest homes provided not only shelter, but also a sense of pride.
“Their name is for a reason; the Village of Hope,” Martin said of the project. “It gives them a hope and that's what these people need."
The group also worked with local orphans, helped develop agriculture projects, and did just about whatever else they could to help lend a hand.
“We’re there only for a week, so I mean, you're pretty limited as to what you can get done,” Martin said. “So you just make every moment count that you possibly can."
And while volunteers said they were overjoyed to give back, they couldn't help but feel like they themselves may have benefited the most.
“You will get so much more out of it than you ever anticipate,” Martin said. “You think you're going to help others and really you end up getting a lot for yourself too."
The group is now trying to raise money to buy a van for the local orphanage. They estimate the total cost of buying and shipping the van to be around $15,000.