HAITI REBUILDING EFFORT | HAITI
All Hands Volunteers, Hands of Disaster Response, AIA Seattle Disaster Preparedness Committee
Rachel Minnery (Project Manager)
Architects Without Borders-Seattle has over three years of experience working in Haiti. Following the devastating earthquake on January 12, 2010 that struck just outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, the Seattle design community came together to see how we as a group could assist in the disaster relief efforts. In early February, Architects Without Borders-Seattle, the AIA Seattle Diversity Roundtable, the AIA Seattle Disaster Preparedness Committee held a meeting of engineers and architects to launch an effort supporting long-term earthquake recovery in Haiti, focusing specifically on how we as designers can help.
Teams of architects and engineers worked with well-established NGOs in Haiti called All Hands Volunteers and Hands of Disaster Response that served as liaisons between the government of Haiti and the volunteers. During the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, trained volunteers in Haiti worked to assess the buildings left standing, with a strong emphasis on providing professional resources to building owners/residents. These safety assessments are the first step to getting fearful residents out of tents and temporary housing and back in their homes. A leading Architects Without Borders volunteer, Rachel Minnery, AIA, served as a trainer in doing these building assessments both here in Seattle and on the ground in Haiti. We fundraised to support volunteers’ travel costs in building assessments however our network involved was much larger, in many cases raising money independently to fund their trips.
However, from our volunteers’ experience and international development experts we know that immediate disaster response is just the first step in a decades-long process to real recovery. While there is usually an enormous influx of donor dollars and hands-on support in the first few months following a disaster, long-term rebuilding efforts rarely begin until a couple of years after, as buildings are assessed, rubble is cleared and appropriate decisions and funding can be mobilized for building.
With this in mind, Architects Without Borders-Seattle, with its on-the-ground knowledge and understanding of the building needs, committed in 2012 to focus on providing long-range vision design skills to communities affected by the earthquake. We nearly immediately received a request for assistance through our website, the Croix des Bouquets school and we made this commitment real. We have completed the preliminary design documents for the school and are in good touch with our community partners as they work on fundraising for construction costs. Through that project, the needs of the Cabaret School were brought to AWB’s attention and we began a dialogue with the school administrators to identify needs. In Fall of 2013, we began work on the schematic design of the Cabaret School.
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