Last week, Christine Parrish wrote an article about Engineering2Empower (E2E) and the housing project I am spearheading in Léogâne, Haiti. As the In-Country Director, I can tell you first hand that she wrote with a great appreciation for the problems facing Haitian housing and also captured the spirit of our organization and the focus we have on empowering Haitians to solve the challenges they face. Anyone with knowledge of Haiti will tell you that many of the issues currently plaguing Haiti existed long before the earthquake - the events of January 12, 2010 only exposed them, leaving in its wake a crisis overlay to latent challenges. But just as we need to dive deep into Haiti's past to understand its problems, we need to look far into Haiti's future to solve them.

E2E's approach has always been simple: the Haitian housing sector needs investment, and not just of the monetary type. Haiti needs investment in institutions, innovation, and most importantly, its people. Haitian housing will not be rebuilt in one, five, or even ten years. Facing a deficit of over one million housing units, solutions that solely chase the proverbial "100 Homes in One Year!" headline fail to recognize the importance of building systems of access, in addition to building homes. While these solutions are important, as they impact and improve real lives everyday, they must run parallel with a policy that hands over the responsibility of housing to Haitians. Without these efforts, just as became of many post-earthquake housing projects, transitional solutions will slowly become permanent strategies.

E2E's work is based on this exact premise; that while our pursuit is to put roofs over heads, our strategy is to empower Haitians with systems that allow them to achieve that goal themselves. The innovation incubator activities covered in last week's article are one attempt to do so. Releasing local innovation, the type essential to surviving daily life in extreme poverty, to solve grand challenges is one form of E2E's investment in Haiti.

Haitians will rebuild Haiti; daily life demands it. The question becomes, how can the international community walk with Haitians on that journey? And although the demands of donors, statistics and measurable results do not always align with it, there is only one sustainable strategy: lay not just foundations of block and mortar, but also of people and empowerment. E2E will continue to invest in institutions, innovation and the people of Haiti, always in accordance with our mantra of Listen, Innovate, Empower. We invite any and all that come across our work to find their own way to empower the Haitian people and join them in a long-term vision of this beautiful country.

Dustin Mix, Co-Founder/In-Country Director, Engineering2Empower, Léogâne, Haiti