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.
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 1.3 million of donations in materials and cash.
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 (pictured) with Builders Without Borders providing the project management services for the project. The ground- and upper-concrete floors of both buildings are completed and the roofs of both building fully installed. The three sets of steel floors for the buildings are currently being constructed and steel studs for the buildings are being currently prepared for shipping.
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 benefited 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 on hold awaiting new donations to complete the project. at the end of 2018. We are looking for an extra $700,000 CDN.
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.