We just came back from a trip in the mountains, recharging our batteries for the next exhausting weeks. In a couple of days we will be finishing Kay 1,5 and 6 with incredible results. We will try to post pictures of them, but our internet cable burnt down three days ago and we still haven’t managed to replace it. Let’s get an overview of what last week brought to La Fewone:
Kay 1: even if Maca and Armin went through a big disagreement with Darling and Johnny, the owners of the house, they finished laying the roof, fixed doors and windows of the extension, opened the wall to connect the old house and the extension, they plastered all the inner walls and built a lintel above the old door. Next step: plastering the outside walls and.. Finished!
Kay 2: after discovering more and more pillars with only one iron as reinforcement, Ampa, Fari and Felix replaced them all and began the wall construction. They also prepared the iron for the ring beams, which is a long and detailed job since the beams are about 9 metres long. Still a lot of work to do, but great progress!
Kay 3: Ilektra, Maëlle and the workers managed to fill in all the gabion walls, which are just missing the plastering. It looks amazing and we are really happy that we managed to build with a different technique that shows that concrete blocks are not the only option.
Kay 5: Sarah went yesterday back to Germany and didn’t manage to see the house finished, but almost! Coline and her finished the structural reinforcement, which was a critical state of the house, adding a ring beam and two lintels above the doors and window. They also started the finishing by fixing the doors and starting the plastering. Next step: flooring and colour plaster!
Kay 6: Emily and Natalia had a turning point in the development of the work. The family, after seeing some of the results, started to get really involved with the construction process and seem more than happy. The atmosphere of the house completely changed, they opened a back door, supported by a new pillar and a lintel, which brings light and ventilation to the house. They also managed to plaster the three missing walls and began the construction of a small inner wall. Great success!
We hope to be able to start the work in Kay 7 and 10 by the middle of next week and soon move to Woche Blanch. The links with the workers become stronger every week, leading to really good moments of productive work and laughter, but also to really hard moments of disagreements about construction techniques, assignments of the tasks and struggle over the work. Anyway they all learn from each other and the students are becoming more confident and capable of dealing with the decision making and the strong character of the Haitian volunteers.
We now realise that we won’t be able to rebuild the 30 houses in by the end of September, but most likely by the end of the year, and even if not, the huge difference brought to each house, give sense to the project.
Thank you again and always for your interest and support. we began organising the rewards for the indiegogo campaign, you should know is not too late to donate, and receive one of this fantastic Haitian gifts. Now the campaign is over but the donations can be done through the Rebuild Haiti Homes webpage: http://www.rebuildhaitihomes.org/donate-now/
The rest of the team arrived in Haiti and will be living in La Galette, one of the three neighbourhoods in which we will be working. We rented the first floor of a big house from a haitian family who live on the ground floor. They are really welcoming and we have a very good relation with them even if all their glasses keep accidentally beeing broken. Gandhi, the first son of the family, got involved in the project and acts as a translator/worker on the construction site which really means a lot for us because sometimes we have communication problems. He also tries to teach us kreyol and we are so far making good progress, specially the two « lucky » french girls for whom it’s easier and faster.
The construction started 2 weeks ago and we met some problems in the way. Nevertheless, our spirit keeps up and so far we have managed to get through all of them. We met our first big obstacle on Monday 28th July, when all of our electric tools and some of the most important materials got stolen from the community center where we kept them. It was a shock and a huge disappointment both for us and the community working with us, who could not understand the purpose of the robbery. The following week was therefore very hard because of the lack of tools, the big pressure and the feeling that we were not going to manage. Even though it was hard, this week also made us much stronger and helped us bond with the workers. Son-son and Micheler, the haitian coordinators, are very important for this too, since they can speak both english, spanish and french and are helping us in the communication, the organization and the understanding of the haitian ways.
We organized ourselves in 5 groups, with two or three of the project members and 3 to 5 Haitian volunteers. This way we are working in 5 houses at the same time. 2 of these houses are being extended and the 3 others are being repaired and improved, not only structurally but also in a matter of life quality. Interventions in already built houses are really a complicated task because a family is already living there, so the construction work has to be compatible with the family life. For us it also means a huge responsibility and stress because we have to act really quickly in order to keep the house standing and safe while we rebuild a pillar and have a free standing wall or while we repair the roof and it’s raining. Before beginning the construction, we drew every house, designed a plan of interventions and set up a budget for every house. We have a limit of 600 US$ for each house that we have to respect and also try to spare as much as possible within this budget to be able to rebuild all the houses.
As we said, last week was also satisfactory because we managed feasible progress in every houses :
Kay 1, Maca and Gonzalo and now Armin brought all the walls of the extension up and are now facing a ring beam to complete the house this week. During the last meeting with the community, Darling, the owner, said that she was completely satisfacted with the work.
Kay 2, Ampa, Fari and Felix faced a severely damaged house, which had to be almost completely teared down. They finished the flooring and prepared all the metal reinforcement in order to fill the concrete pillars and beams.
Kay 3, Maëlle and Ilektra are successfully progressing on their extension. In these two weeks, they managed a whole stone foundation, over-foundation and the flooring and are now beginning with the walls. These would have a wooden structure and be filled in with debris held by a chicken wire.
Kay 5, Coline and Sarah teared down and repaired a concrete pillar and prepared the iron reinforcement for the ring beam to be linked to it. They also accomplished the whole wooden structure for the inner wall, as well as started filling it in with debris.
Kay 6, Natalia and Emily took down the most damaged parts of the roof, and focused on building lintels for the doors and windows. They began with the flooring and managed a very nice third of the surface already.
A really important part of the work we are doing here is to teach the Haitian workers the best possible way to build their houses. That means that we organize workshops for all to learn different techniques : foundation, block lying, wooden structure, and the construction site turns to be a learning site, where both sides learn from the other. The work is slower as we thought due to these reasons and the really bad state of the houses, but even if we don’t manage to finish the 30 houses, we believe that at the end of our stay the workers will be able to complete the work by themselves and to avoid unforgivable structural mistakes. Every week, we have both a meeting for the families whose house are being repaired and the cooperative workers involved in the construction. It’s really important to talk about the problems that come up but also a great moment for sharing the enthusiasm about the accomplishments.
The planed houses in La Fewone will be finished within 2 weeks and we will move then to Woch Blanche. We will try to share with you all the news and please keep supporting us because we really need to feel supported through the hards moments and need your donations to be able to complete the project.
Our first construction began with the members of the new construction co-operative learning how to make strong concrete blocks from start to finish. Anne and Berthony went through mixing right proportions of sand, cement and water, thoroughly mixing and compacting and leaving them to cure. They will need to dry slowly and will be ready for us to use on the houses in a month.
In our latest participatory workshop we met again with each of the 30 families and checked with them house by house what exactly is missing, needs to be changed or can be improved. The families join in the design process with colours, pen and paper our participants can explain precisely their needs.
Last sunday, we held 3 separate meetings for people interested in joining the construction cooperative in the community halls of Galette, Woch Blanche and La Fewone. There was a lot of interest in joining the co-operative with 75 people signing up to participate. Even though they will not be paid people were still very interested in learning how to rebuild their own and others homes so that they can help out each other in the community as well as in order to gain building skills for future employment.
Oscar joins the local team in Haiti. He and Jonathan celebrated Easter with chocolate and the kids of Croix-des-Bouquets. Thanks Jonathan for organising!
We are working for the preparation of our new project in Haiti where we’ll work with 30 families to build 30 house improvements. For this project, we will be hosting a fundraising Party at TU Berlin (Straße des 17. Juni 152 10623 Berlin) on Wednesday the 30th of April, where all of you are invited. The kick off will be a small barbecue from 15 o’clock, with Tacos for 1,50€ and from around 21 o’clock, how people traditionally do at Walpurgisnacht in Berlin, you can “dance into the Mai“ with all of us!
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