Joined by funders, partners and members of the local community the Santo Community Development Plan broke ground last Thursday, September 15, 2011.
A humble gathering under a tent in the middle of a construction site was present to celebrate an important moment in the reconstruction of Léogâne and Haiti. The Santo Community Development Plan is the largest permanent reconstruction project in the region worst affected by the 2010 earthquake. A collaboration between the Municipality of Léogâne, Habitat for Humanity, Architecture for Humanity and Haven, the project will create an urban infrastructure to support the settlement of a starter home village, schools, health facilities, recreation and community spaces as well as opportunities for commercial development.
The multi-year Santo project is being funded through the generous support from the Inter-American Development Bank-Multilateral Investment Fund; Samenwerkende Hulporganisaties (SHO)/ Cordaid – Netherlands; SAP AG; African-American Baptist Mission Collaboration—Lott Carey; Minuto de Dios; Urban Zen Foundation/New York City Housing Authority; Habitat for Humanity Great Britain (COINS and Jersey Overseas Aid Commission); Diageo Foundation; Progressive Haitian American Organization; Deerborn Charitable Trust, First Institutional Baptist Church; and Ocean Reef Foundation.
The mayor of Léogâne, Santos Alexis, and Willio Latagnac, President of the Montpelier Community Association, expressed their gratitude to all involved in bringing this project to realization.
U.S Ambassador Merten and Mark Andrews, Vice President of Haiti Recovery within Habitat for Humanity International praised the local community for their active role in the project and the design process over the last year.
A passionate speech from Marie Veronila Antoine, one of the future residents, endorsed the project and powerfully stated that “nothing can stop this project now, except for the grace of God.”
Though not personally present, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter articulated his enthusiasm and excitement about the Carter Work Project which in an unprecedented move will focus on the Santo project for two years. President Carter and a team of several hundred volunteers will work alongside residents this November to build the first 150 homes.
With 140 foundations already in the ground the ceremony had a palpable reality to it. Work on site in progressing swiftly and the first 150 homes together with the physical infrastructure should be complete by the end of November with residents moving in before Christmas.
Architecture for Humanity have been working on this project since November 2010 as planners and through a community led design process on the design of the physical and social infrastructure. A full range of focus groups, community charrettes, presentations, discussions an dialogue have governed the design of the plan and the project is being tracked publicly online via the Open Architecture Network.