It has been just more than six months since a magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit Haiti, and a number of Woolwich Township residents have spent that time planning, organizing and fundraising for projects that will help the country rebuild. Today (Saturday), a group of volunteer builders from Waterloo Region will begin their training as team leaders, and learn how to construct a prototype of an easy-to-build home for transportation down south later this summer.
Elmira’s Marilyn McIlroy has been working with the Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada, Vancor Homes and a community in Haiti for several months, getting the prototype ready for presentation.
McIlroy said she has been impressed and proud of the outpouring of support that came from Woolwich Township. More than $80,000 was donated to the Yvonne Martin memorial fund, to be given to Haitian youth interested in pursuing medical studies.
“The support that Haiti saw from our community was incredible, and I think it is so important. We have been blessed with so much. It is not necessarily a bad thing to be blessed with so much, but it is certainly our responsibility to care for our neighbours. And our neighbours are not just in Elmira, or Waterloo Region, or even Canada, but they are global.”
McIlroy is currently in Haiti continuing with the needs assessment project, while staff at EMCC prepare for this weekend’s training in Kitchener.
“This weekend will be a demonstration mainly,” said Lou Geense, director of global initiatives for EMCC. “The houses are fairly easy to build once you know how so we want to make sure that everyone understands the process properly.”
Vancor Homes has created a prototype for homes specifically designed for Haiti. One home can be assembled by a four- or five-person crew in one day. They feature insulation that make them ideal for warm-climate countries, are maintenance-free, sanitary and termite resistant.
The project is set to take place in two phases. The first is the building of 1,000 homes in rural Haiti at a cost of $8,000 per house plus shipping. The homes will be manufactured in Canada and shipped to Haiti, where the teams will train the Haitians to do the assembly themselves.
During phase two of the project, EMCC hopes to establish a manufacturing plant in Haiti to produce the panels, supplying the country with a safe housing option on a long-term basis. The goal is to create jobs for Haitians in areas of manufacturing, transportation, construction and management.
“They (Vancor) are doing this as a relief and development exercise, rather than a project to make money,” said Geense. “The owner wants to get these houses to people who need them.”
The event is being held Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 214 Highland Road E. in Kitchener and is open to interested builders/leaders willing to go to Haiti to lead local and volunteer teams in rebuilding for the internally displaced persons living outside of Port au Prince.