On January 12th, 2010, a devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck 25 kilometres southwest of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, and was soon followed by two weeks of aftershocks measuring 4.5 or greater. The death toll projected was over 200,000 people.

In the aftermath, the Government of Haiti estimated 250,000 residences and 30,000 commercial buildings had collapsed or were severely damaged.

Builders Without Borders Response

The Canadian Construction Association (CCA) approached Builders Without Borders (BWB) to identify a project in Haiti for the Canadian construction industry to support.  Located in the poorest neighbourhood of Port au Prince, a 50-student construction trade school destroyed by the earthquake was identified in need of help.  As a result, a new 200-student construction trade school (L’Ecole Lakay) was planned for the site adjacent to the demolished school.

To support the development and construction of L’Ecole Lakay, the CCA across Canada raised in excess of $1.6 million of donations in materials and cash.

Artist’s impression of the completed building

Working with the CCA, Builders Without Borders successfully recruited engineers, architects, project managers and planners to develop a seismic resistant building design for the construction trade school project.  The new design consists of two two-storey steel frame buildings, covering a total of 2,200 square metres in area.  The buildings are equipped with modern electrical, water and sewerage systems and include classrooms, workshops, a warehouse and offices.

The buildings are currently under construction with Builders Without Borders providing the project management services for the project.  Local Haitian companies are largely carrying out the construction work with Canadian volunteers providing on-site support and “transfer of knowledge” to the local workers. The project has also benefitted from two weeks of on-site work by six volunteer workers from the Ironworkers Union Local 97 in Vancouver, British Columbia.  Builders Without Borders has also received interest from other B.C. Unions wanting to volunteer on this project.

The estimated completion date of the L’Ecole Lakay trade school is at the end of 2016. 

The Anticipated Result

With 200 students receiving training annually in woodwork, metalwork, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, blockwork construction and tailoring, it is hoped that this project will significantly raise the capabilities of Haitians to continue the ongoing task of re-building their country.

Furthermore, Builders Without Borders is working on methods to train and assist graduate students in forming cooperatives to support and enhance their move into the Haitian re-construction effort.


Status of construction July 2016

As of early July 2016, the status of the Lakay Trade School Project in Port au Price, Haiti, is as follows:

  • The structural steel framing of both buildings is substantially complete (see photo above). There remains a few days’ work on the tie-down of the structural roofing to both buildings and the “Flying” roof spanning between the two buildings.
  • The structural steel floor is on the second floor level and, with minor repairs and modifications, ready for the installation of reinforced steel mesh and a concrete slab.
  • We are also about to award installation of final rain-shedding corrugated roofing above the structural steel roof.
  • Negotiations are underway with a local Haitian steel fabrication company for supply and installation of interior stairs (3 sets) and balcony hand railings.
  • Plans are underway to ship drywall interior materials (drywall, suds, etc.) and the exterior wall system.
  • Commencement of these items of work are pending until a further fund-raising effort is ready to launch and we have a satisfactory response to that campaign.
  • Appeals for donated electrical materials, and crews to install in Haiti, are becoming a reality, as well as offers of donated drywall materials from Quebec.
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