Schools, Homes in Haiti Going Up Fast

While rebuilding is slow, Food for the Poor is building homes and schools fast

By Hank Tester
|  Wednesday, Jun 22, 2011  |  Updated 6:29 PM EDT
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Food for the Poor is getting things done in Haiti.

Food for the Poor is getting things done in Haiti.

They are going up quick. Food for the Poor is constructing four schools in and around the Haitian capital of Port au Prince, just 17 months since a monster earthquake all but leveled the city.

Workers are swarming one of the sites in the shadow of a ruined Port au Prince Cathedral. They are putting up unique concrete and foam walls that are designed to withstand strong earthquakes and Category 5 hurricanes.

At the Jean Marie Guilloux school site, children can look forward to six classrooms, a cafeteria, a computer lab, music room and a library. The facility will be self-contained with a water well and septic system. 

The construction is unique among many other efforts ion the island nation because it is actually moving forward.

Reconstruction has been slow throughout the nation.

Former President Bill Clinton recently visited a home construction site in efforts to jumpstart building.

"This is a symbol of what can happen for every Haitian family all over this nation and I will do everything I can to see that it does," he said.

Food for the Poor officials said they have already put up 2,000 double-room homes in the rural areas and have installed a number of water systems, critical in cholera-threatened Haiti.

So how do private agencies like Food for the Poor get their projects off the ground when others do not?

Angel Aloma, the executive director of Food for the Poor's operation in Coconut Creek, sums it up like this: "We know what we are doing basically." 

"We do have a hometown advantage. We have been in Haiti for 25 years and we have 400 employees there and we have a tremendous infrastructure all ready to go," she said. "We have all the paperwork that the government requires."

On the ground, hopes are high.

"Everybody says the future is the children and if we do not make sure the children of Haiti have a good education then we are not going to have the  improvement in the conditions that we see here today," said Beth Carroll, who is directing the school building project.

Each of the schools will take about two months to complete. The Jean Marie Guilloux School should welcome students by late July. 

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