lundi 2 mai 2011

Contractor hopes to build model village in Haiti

KITCHENER — Clive Diggins has already built his prototype. Now he wants to build a village.
The Kitchener contractor, who says his plan to build 100 disaster relief shelters in Haiti began after he had a nightmare about the country’s 2010 earthquake, knows he’s got a lot of work to do.
First, he needs about $500,000 in donations.
“I know $500,000 sounds like a lot of money. But that’s about the price of one home in Waterloo. We could house 400 people (in Haiti) for that,” he said.
And he needs to turn his project Borders and Beyond, a concept he created about a year ago, into a full-fledged non-profit organization.
But he’s got the land — a soccer field on a hill outside Port au Prince — and permission from the owner to build. And he’s got his shelter design, a 3.65 metre by 2.4 metre (12 foot by eight foot) portable home with a steel roof, toilet and rain filtration system.
He’s already built a prototype, a plastic-sided building that he’s placed on display at the St. Jacobs farmers’ market. He’s sunk about $20,000 and many months of designing into the structure.
Diggins believes this shelter, with its improved sanitation and earthquake-resistant construction, can save lives.
Fifteen months after the disaster that killed 316,000 Haitians, there are still more than 600,000 people living in temporary camps around the country. Diggins hopes his 100-shelter village would be a model that would lead to larger contracts to house thousands more.
He hopes to start construction on the shelters in September, and hopes it would stand as a model for officials writing cheques in Haiti’s rebuilding effort. He plans to bring a crew of six or eight workers to the shattered Haitian capital, and teach locals how to assemble the prefabricated shelters themselves. He plans to install water purification and portable toilets, too.
It’s an ambitious project for a man who has never done anything like this before. But it’s a project he believes in, even more so since visiting the quake-shattered Caribbean country in March.
“We’ve just got to get in and do this project,” Diggins said. “These people need this.”
The contractor said he’s been pitching his plan to local companies, hoping for sponsorship, selling it as a cost-effective way to give safe, adaptable homes to 400 people.

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