Work on the Ecole Lakay project in Haiti recently hit its second wind. Former British Columbia Construction Association president Manley McLachlan, who is serving as team lead regarding fundraising, explained that following the Canadian Construction Association’s (CCA) spring board meeting in St. John’s, N.L. the project has picked up steam.
McLachlan explained that Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti on Oct. 4, 2016 as a Category 4 hurricane, causing massive destruction. The incident reminded many in the construction community that the country still had a long way to go and the CCA project began regaining some momentum.
“We don’t quit and we finish what we start,” said McLachlan.
In June, Brian Boone of Builders Without Borders and Haiti project team leader Serge Massicotte secured a contract to finish the build’s roofing system. They also have added to the design turbines to pull heat out of the building. Next month, Massicotte will travel to the site to oversee the start of the roofing contract.
He said that Robert Lashin of Houle Electric has stepped up to handle the electrical portion of the project. Lashin will oversee the design of the electrical system and Houle will prefab as much of it as possible. Lashin has also taken on the task of getting donated materials for the system from the supply community.
For the electrical labour, Lashin has enlisted the help of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) union in Vancouver.
“IBEW recently created Electricians Without Borders, so they are excited to get involved in the project,” said McLachlan.
Quebec’s construction association, l’Association de la construction du Quebec, has taken on the responsibility of the facility’s steel studding, recently donating $50,000 to support its contractor members who are volunteering to provide the labour. This portion of the project involves the installation of the studs and interior and exterior wall boards.
McLachlan said a supporter in the wall and ceiling industry has volunteered to connect with the supply community to get the materials. He said he is also in talks to get a significant discount on the steel studding and is in communication with Canadian OSB manufacturers who are working to try and donate the 2,400 needed OSB sheets through their charitable funds.
“This is not a typical project,” said McLachlan. “Fundraising is always a challenge because you have ups and downs.”
But a change to the school could open it up to some federal funding. While a major focus of the school is trades training, in Haiti it is a field dominated by males. To serve the women of the country better, the CCA decided to repurpose one of the large trades training rooms into an information technology (IT) training facility.
And since the Canadian government has stipulated that women not get left behind in humanitarian efforts in Haiti, the IT focus could open up the door for federal dollars.
McLachlan said the CCA has stuck to its commitment to not only build the facility to Canadian standards, but to also make sure that all the support goes to the project and not into someone else’s pocket.
This can be a real challenge in a country that was once rated by Transparency International’s Corruption Perception as the fourth most corrupt country in the world. The agency’s perception Index for 2013 ranked Haiti the most corrupt country in the Caribbean region, ranking 163 out of 177 countries.
“The Rinaldi Foundation has really helped us with circumventing the kleptocracy,” said McLachlan.
Rinaldi, which owns and will operate the school, has been in Haiti for decades. The CCA has been involved with the rebuild of Ecole Lakay for more than seven years, after the original school was destroyed during a magnitude 7.0 earthquake on Jan. 12, 2010. It caused catastrophic damage to the country’s infrastructure and left 300,000 people dead.
There were students inside the school after hours when the earthquake struck — 150 people lost their lives at Ecole Lakay and 22 are buried in a cemetery at the site.
“This thing is not dormant, its moving, we are going to finish it,” said McLachlan, adding that the CCA is still looking for support from the industry by donating materials or funds.