Glasgow instructor represents Habitat in Haiti

Anna Anderson

Since the 2010 earthquake, Patrick Brown said Haiti had been on his mind. He said he was looking for opportunities to lend a hand, but had not gotten any promising leads on where to start.

The recent WKU graduate, who is now a mathematics instructor at WKU’s Glasgow campus, said many areas of Haiti were inaccessible to large numbers of people until recently.

“I kept thinking it would be really nice to pitch in and help out,” Brown said. “The poverty there is just astounding.”

When Brown joined the WKU faculty at the beginning of this school year, he finally got his chance.

After becoming a member of the WKU chapter of Habitat for Humanity, he made plans to attend this year’s Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project in Léogâne, Haiti.

After raising $5,000 in donations, Brown joined more than 400 other volunteers at the Atlanta airport on Nov. 5 and boarded one of two chartered Delta planes to Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

It was at orientation in Atlanta that Brown met Rodney Goodman, the executive director for the Bowling Green/Warren County Habitat for Humanity chapter.

When Goodman, Brown and the other volunteers arrived in Port-au-Prince, they got their first glimpse of what life was like for Haitians still coping with the effects of the earthquake and subsequent flooding and disease.

Brown said seeing this helped him to put everything into perspective.

“It helped me to focus on what we were doing and why we were there,” Brown said.

After a long bus ride from the nation’s capital to Léogâne, known as the epicenter of the quake, Goodman said things were worse.

“Nothing could prepare you for the devastation,” he said.

Goodman said most Haitians in the Léogâne area live on about two dollars per day in tents set up in the aftermath of the earthquake.

In order to help Haitians get back into stable homes and to move forward, Habitat for Humanity has pledged to build or renovate 50,000 homes over the next five years. Habitat is also planning to build 26 wells and a school, Goodman said.

During this year’s Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project, 100 homes were built. Often times, the Haitians built their own homes or helped out their friends and relatives.

“We were as close with the homeowners as we were with each other,” Brown said.

During their stay in Haiti, both Brown and Goodman said the Haitian people are resilient despite their circumstances.

For Goodman, seeing school children leave their tents in neatly pressed, bright-colored uniforms and head off to school in the morning proved this resilience.

“You wonder how you could even have that after what they’ve been through,” Brown said.

Although the WKU chapter of Habitat for Humanity does not have any scheduled events for the remainder of the semester, chapter president Noah Onkst, a senior from Erlanger, said the group will be building with local chapters in Meridian, Miss., Athens, Ala., and Eastman, Ga., over winter break.

For more information on the WKU chapter Onkst, recommends checking on the WKU Habitat website periodically at

Brown hopes to continue his work with the WKU chapter of Habitat for Humanity and would like to return to Haiti sometime over spring break or summer vacation.

“It’s a really great experience to be helping out,” Onkst said.