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.