Posted by Karl Johnson on Jan 11, 2011
Related program: Haiti Rebuilding Center
Pastor Dorcinvil Wilkesse's commendations grace the top of Architecture for Humanity's Haiti Year in Review. These words were captured some time after Architecture for Humanity had begun a serious design relationship with his school, the Institut Foyer du Savoir ("Home of Knowledge"). Last week, efforts on the school came to an incredible milestone: the signing of an agreement.
Stacey eagerly reported the last words of the meeting to the rest of the Haiti team.
"[Pastor Wilkesse] told us he prays for Architecture for Humanity to have strength morning and night and that it is very special that we help the little guy. He also said he would make a lot of noise, nationally and internationally about what we have done for his school. Very sweet."
The pastor heads a church in conjunction with Home of Knowledge–so
there's little doubt he knows how to spread some good news.
I imagine Stacey practicing, as in front of a mirror, the big announcement that lead to a room of smiles: "the Haiti School Initiative Grant, in conjunction with Students Rebuild, presents you with $125,000 toward Phase 1 of your school." And yet, upon delivery: "there wasn't much of a reaction." At which point Stacey and Schendy exchange a look before Stacey proceeds to walk through the details of the agreement. Soon Schendy suggests taking another pass at the announcement, which this time struck a chord. "He looked up and was like 'woah...yeah.'" His school is getting funding to rebuild–funding that in many ways realizes his dreams. This is actually happening.
The school owner agreement drafted by the Rebuilding Center is set up to bring the money from Students Rebuild and the Haiti School Initiative to the school owner, and subsequently to the Haitian contractors putting hands and hammers (or gloves and grout) to the project. The agreement covers the first phase of the project, or the establishment of the first classrooms and support spaces, like kitchens and latrines, having Architecture for Humanity work to orient the owner on overseeing the construction of their school. Three similar agreements will be presented to the other Round 1 school owners this week, with similar detailed discussions.
Often build crews, consisting of at least 80% labor from the school's community, and headed by an experienced boss-foreman, won't know the project owner, and a relationship has to be built. But then there are cases such as Pastor Wilkesse's–where the owner knows just the person for the job. "It turns out Dorcinvil has a fellow pastor who is also a contractor." (Here Stacey makes an aside that the "also-is" multiprofessionalism is a very regular occurrence.) "He would have to be vetted by [Architecture for Humanity], but it's very possible his friend's crew meets the contractor prequalifications" and can help build the school. No doubt he would also be one of the first to hear the news.
"This is one of those great moments," Stacey tells me over Skype, "where everyone reaches this point where the project is suddenly real, and everyone is celebrating." And yes, it takes a bit of time to sink in. Instead of signing the document on the spot, Pastor Wilkesse opted to take it back to his parish for a bit of review and private celebrating. He and his colleague depart the Rebuilding Center, wishing the team well. Ten minutes later, Stacey gets an email. It's the also-is-contractor, with one thing on his mind: "when do we start?"
Stacey replies with an attached prequalification packet, as though to say "real soon."
Original article on Students Rebuild Field Notes