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November 14, 2011 06:35 AM

Sioux Falls Woman Re-Building Haiti

Sioux Falls, SD


It was an earthquake that changed the lives of thousands of Haitians forever; leaving millions homeless and causing unimaginable damage to the region.

But there was a flood of help in the months that followed and those stories aren't being forgotten.

After the quake, Stacey McMahn took a year off of work and traveled to Haiti as part of Architecture for Humanity. She says it was a life-changing decision.

"Our mission, to start, was rebuilding schools that had either been destroyed or damaged by the earthquake," McMahn said.

McMahn says around 85 percent of schools in Haiti are private and the rest are public. They worked on five of the private ones while she was there.

"What we did was get to know the school's owner, do a full campus assessment and then a master plan for repair or rebuild," McMahn said.

They would build a five-room school with a latrine and leave the rest for later when more funding arrives. They had students from the United States and Canada raising money for their program. It was an experience she will never forget.

"I’m so glad that I took that jump to do that, you know, when you do something kind of crazy," McMahn said.

Now, she hopes she can get more people to take that same jump, whether it's going to Haiti or just doing something helpful.

"We can make a difference and it, you have to find an opportunity that's within your skill set and preview and then you can make a real difference," McMahn said.

And while she knows the work she did made a difference, with an estimated 280,000 buildings destroyed, there's still more to be done.

"There’s so much work to do there and so I’m glad that I had an affect there while I was there and I know that it did help, but it’s just a drop in the bucket," McMahn said.

If you want to hear more about McMahn's story, she will be speaking at South Dakota State University, Tuesday at 7 p.m.
  • Brookings, SD
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