After four months of steady rebuilding we now have a fully functional headquarters. We transformed our old vehicle storage area into a seven room headquarters, storage depot and pharmacy. The final phase will be the installation of a solar power system.
Volunteer Residence Construction
Now that we have a functional office HQ, we may begin reconstruction of our volunteer center. The torrential rains, poor sewage situation and stifling summer heat make tent living extremely unpleasant. We began clearing the rubble from the recently purchased adjacent plot and will construct a large volunteer residence. This complex will include volunteer quarters, dormitories for Oblate associates, Fr. Tom’s residence, a chapel, meeting rooms, dining area and space for vehicle storage and repairs.
Need for Volunteers
"The time has come for some help from American volunteers. We have a Haitian staff team that can do 95% of the hands-on work, but we need mentors and teachers to improve the quality of our staff and teachers and to protect some of the structures we have in place,” says Fr. Tom when asked about some of the changes Hands Together will make after the earthquake. “We are looking for people who are ‘comfortable Catholics’, with some maturity and an active faith and spiritual life. Speaking French –or better yet, Creole – would be a big plus. People with experiences working in Haiti would be great,” says Fr. Tom Hagan.
“There is a place now for some uniquely qualified people to come and live here at our center and assist with our Catholic mission projects. It could be a married couple, or a recent graduate from Teach for America, or a retired mechanic-fix everything person, but we are ready for some good mentors and a ‘service community’ that can help move us forward,” according to Doug Campbell, Executive Director.
We currently welcome applications from candidates who wish to live and work in Haiti as Hands Together volunteers. You can go to our service page here (link to Service Info) for information on serving as a volunteer.
Nine Projects: Creating Jobs and Fixing Schools
“It is very, very hot here now. There is so much that needs to be done. In any other year, this would be the time to relax a bit and fix up the buildings and do planning for the upcoming school year. But now, after the earthquake, schools will remain open until late July, forcing us to operate and rebuild at the same time,” wrote Fr. Tom in a June 14, 2010 email.
Our summer building plan contains nine work projects: each one is designed to give jobs to local residents while implementing the repair and reconstruction recommendations from the U.S. engineer team. These projects will employee more than 150 people who are desperate for work.
Project 1: The Residence at Delmas
- Clear away the rubble of two residential plots and combine the lots into one usable space;
- Construct dormitories, volunteer quarters, dining area, meeting rooms and a chapel.
For the past two weeks work teams, using shovels and wheelbarrows, have slowly cleared much of the rubble, but now we need to rent heavy equipment to move the large slabs of cement.
Project 2: San Francois High School Campus
Our high school is filled with 900 students jammed into temporary and damaged classrooms.
- Disconnect the large building from each other;
- Repair all major cracks in the classroom walls and ceilings need using the tools and techniques taught to our staff by the volunteer engineers.
- Construct 12 new classrooms behind the existing buildings.
We hope to purchase adjacent land to expand the school and add recreation areas and playing fields. We will install 50 computers and solar energy after completing construction.
Project 3: St Ann School – Fr. Vollel Campus
- Remove ceiling of old kitchen and create courtyard;
- Repair and reconstruct all cracks and damages to classrooms;
- Move staff offices to area close to hospital,
- Tear down and clear 3 building condemned by engineers;
- Construct seven new classrooms adjacent to elderly feeding center;
- Restoration of playing fields;
- Add computer lab and new doors, desks, and other materials.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Jones Day Foundation we can fund much of this rebuilding plan.
Project 4: St. Veronica Campus
- Demolish all first floor classroom floors and remove rubble;
- Repair floors and disconnect large buildings;
- Fix all cracks in classrooms;
- Repair playground space;
- Construct offices for administrative staff
- Repair Kitchen.
Project 5: Holy Family Campus (dedicated to Msgr. Connolly)
- Repair the wall and some minor cracks;
- Build new latrines
- Finish repairing wall;
- Repair latrines
Project 6: St. Margaret Campus (dedicated to Arbishop Miot)
- Finish repairing wall;
- Repair latrines
Project 7: Warf Jeremie New School Construction
Wharf Jeremie is a slum area bordering Cite Soleil with inhuman poverty. With generous support from Mary Meals in Scotland, we can fund the construction of 9 classroom school, complete with latrines, office, kitchen, and a small chapel. There is an Italian nun who runs a medical outreach clinic in this area and she has offered to help administer the new school.
Project 8: St Joseph School Campus
St. Joseph is located in a very violent area and it is not an easy place for students to access. Therefore, we will only renovate 4 of the 6 classrooms and will use additional space for recreation, teachers lounge and elderly feeding outreach.
Many not open till after Sept 15
Project 9: St. Jane Chantal Campus
We received a grant from the Digicel Company to rebuild our St. Jane Chantal campus in the Bellicous neighborhood of Cite Soleil.
- Tear down all school classrooms and remove debris;
- Build a 9 classroom school and include site for our mobile clinic.
The effects of the January 12th earthquake permeate the lives of everybody living in Port-au-Prince and it will take many months for the damage and pain to subside. To help people cope with the strain and difficulty we created the “Charity Jezi” (Jesus’ Charity) program.
Our goal is to channel “charity cash” to our workers and families of our students. We know that we cannot help everyone, but we prayerfully look for ways to help people become more stable. We provide housing grants, medical and food grants and funds to help people start businesses and go back to school for training. As of June 15, 2010, we’ve helped more than 345 families with direct grants totaling $235,000.