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The earthquake in Haiti left hundreds of thousands homeless. Haiti Engineering - Fallieres Abdallah, Steve Price and I traveled to Leogane Haiti. Leogane Haiti is the ancestral home for Mr. Abdallah and I. Naturally we wanted to see how the town withstood the earthquake. It was just as bad as was reported. Most of the dead were buried, although the cemetery, believe it or not, was hit pretty hard. Not even the dead were left at peace during this shake.
The Red Cross, and other NGO’s, were providing immediate relief services to the Haitian people in the form of food and shelter. The shelters provided to the homeless were mostly tents. Some of these tents, “Tent in Box”, are not cheap. They’re over a thousand dollars in most cases. In providing immediate relief to the homeless, this made sense, but there were no long term solutions. We started hearing the term transitional housing, which may make sense here in the United States, but not in Haiti and other parts of the world. Transitional may be the intent, but as you move from the response to recovery phase of the disaster, the recovery is usually left to someone else.
We decided to see if could build a permanent earthquake and hurricane proof structure for about the price of a tent in a box. The pictures you see below are of what we built, with the help of Steve Price, which has already withstood a hurricane.
The “Boss”, local contractor, did a great job following instructions. At first he wondered why the wood was spaced so closely, or why we were hooking the rebar for anchorage, but he finally understood. It’s our hope that he uses some of what he learned building our shelter into the small structures that he builds around town, but of course this is all resource driven.
So, yes we built a transitional type shelter for about the price of a shelter in a box, it took a few days since it was built with nothing but hand tools. There’s no electricity in Leogane. Even the holes were drilled using a chisel.
We hope that the NGO’s in Haiti, and there’s many of them, give the Haitian people and opportunity to rebuild/build their own homes. While it’s nice to see an out pouring of help from outside of Haiti, especially to Leogane – ground zero of the earthquake, there are benefits in having the Haitians reconstruct. The benefits are as simple as pride in building their dwellings, to the economic boost to their local economy.
Haiti Engineering would like to fund 4 more dwellings like this to help 4 families move from tents to a more permanent structure. Please help us by making a donation.