Setting the Standard: New Buildings Adopt Safety Measures in Haiti

Publication Date: 
March 08, 2011

(MissionNewswire) The opening of the new Salesian warehouse in Haiti was cause for celebration for two reasons—not only will it provide new efficiencies for ongoing rebuilding efforts but it is also designed according to Caribbean building standards to withstand future natural disasters.

Quality construction standards are a concern in rebuilding Haiti, according to a recent National Public Radio report highlighting many considerable challenges to reconstruction. The issues include lack of qualified engineers, poverty and corruption—as well as few national building standards in the country.

To ensure their new buildings meet established safety standards, Salesians worked with architect Micheline Baptiste to meet fundamental safety requirements outlined in the Model Building Code for Earthquakes established by the Association of Caribbean States.

“We need to unite for the reconstruction of Haiti,” said Father Jacques Charles, director of the Rinaldi Foundation, at the dedication of the warehouse—a permanent Salesian structure completed after the earthquake.

He adds that new construction techniques are being taught in the Salesian vocational schools, which each year educate youth in construction, carpentry and electrical maintenance.

“We are making every effort to ensure safety is a priority in Haiti—now as we rebuild and well into the future,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions in New Rochelle, NY.

The addition of the warehouse will help Salesian Missions improve its capabilities for serving vulnerable youth. It will allow coordination of the distribution of all supplies being sent to support its programs throughout Haiti. To date, 59 containers of relief supplies—including food, water, clothing, medical and personal hygiene supplies, computers, religious goods, water purification plants, water purification tablets, schools in a box, 10 industrial generators, and forklifts—were shipped, as well as two school buses and nearly 2,000 tents. To ensure the most effective use of supplies, Salesian Missions evaluates the situation at each of its sites to match needs with available resources.

The warehouse will also ensure that Salesian Mission can prepare to effectively overcome any disruptions in supplies, such as many expect with the announcement of the upcoming election results, adds Fr. Hyde.

Salesians are fully committed to rebuilding their educational infrastructure in Haiti, which sustained tremendous damage. Since 1935, Salesians have worked to educate Haiti’s most vulnerable youth and trained the best and brightest to become future business people, teachers, construction workers and leaders.

Salesian Missions is raising funds to help rebuild its schools and programs in Haiti and donations are needed.

Source: “In Haiti’s Rebuilding, Calls for Stronger Structures.” (NPR, Jan 14, 2011)