Caring Hywel uses his skills to help rebuild earthquake country
A SELF-EMPLOYED builder has jetted off to help rebuild the Caribbean country of Haiti — which is still in ruins after a devastating earthquake almost three years ago.
This will be the third visit for Hywel Slaymaker from Saron, near Llangeler, who left on Friday.
He will be joining a team of American volunteers to rebuild people's homes in and around the capital Port-au-Prince.
Mr Slaymaker said the people of Haiti remain in a desperate situation with little support to rebuild their own homes.
It is estimated that 316,000 people were killed, 300,000 injured and more than one million made homeless in the catastrophe.
"Even before the earthquake, it was regarded as the poorest place in the western hemisphere," said Mr Slaymaker.
"Many organisations have done a marvellous job but there is still lots of work to do.
"From the area I've been in, Port-au-Prince and the surrounding villages, people can't afford to rebuild, let alone clear the land.
"Many have been forced to squat on their own land because if they leave, someone else would come along and claim it."He said his wife Gwenllian and his grown-up daughters have all supported his charity work.
He first came across an advert on the noticeboard of his local church, Bryn MoriahChapel in Brynhoffnant.
It was from an organisation called Men for Mission, part of a group called One Mission Society.
Mr Slaymaker said: "In reading through it, a strange warmth welled up within me, and I could not but respond.
"I thought to myself, I am not into computers, I don't do medicine — but I can build."
He admitted that he enjoyed the hard work in difficult conditions and the camaraderie of the other members of the group, nearly all from America.
He said the group worked with local churches and builders in Haiti to help families in the most need.
"It's about the satisfaction you get," he said.
"At the end of the day, I can't speak their language, although I am learning a little, but when the house is completed, the look and gestures of the people say it all."
He is spending two weeks of his own time in the country, joining two separate American missions.
He said he has paid for his own flights and is now asking people to sponsor him in his work.
"I'd like to challenge anyone who'd like to consider doing this sort of work to join me," he added.
"I've already had three men saying they've agreed to go out, and I'm looking at putting together a team for next summer."
To help, email Harvest Storehouse Ministry in Saron on harveststore firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07800 930 050.