An interview with Charlie Scott who helped construct the building we’re now tearing down.
Child Sponsorship Program asked Architecture for Humanity to do a site assessment on a school that they are sponsoring in Pele, Port-Au-Prince, and explore possibilities for collaboration. École Baptiste Bon Berger is located in Pele, on the outskirts of Cité Soleil.
The school provides education to 1200 students, with a team of 36 teachers. The Primary section of the school operates from 7am to 11am, while the secondary departments go until 1pm. Class sizes are meant to be no more than 35 students, but currently swell up to 60 per class. Lack of space creates an unbearable environment for the students to work in.
Water and food are provided to the students free of charge daily. There is a working kitchen with a staff that operates to provide the necessary food. There is also a merchant that sells goods on site to the neighborhood.
The school year typically lasts from September to June. School supplies and books are managed by the school and not through the government. Tuition is 250 Gourdes a year (approx. $7US). According to the school employees and board members, security is not an issue, and they have not had electricity in years–the school instead relies on a generator and inverter for its modest electricity needs.
The site is flat with concrete walls around the perimeter and narrow access to a street on one side. The other three sides abut residential areas of dense, primarily self-erected housing. A few shallow drainage canals exist on the site. There is no reported problem with standing water.
The current temporary classrooms are made out of wood framing covered with plywood and tarps. These classrooms were erected after the earthquake by volunteers from Child Sponsorship Program. There is an existing kitchen facility and a health office on site that have both survived the earthquake.
USAID and OXFAM are using part the school as storage space, and some members of the community including school staff are living on site in tents, as their prior on campus accommodations collapsed in the earthquake. An existing office block remains on the site but is used tepidly.
There are only 2 latrines for the teachers and 5 for the students on site in unsanitary conditions. They were last cleaned in December according to [a member of the school board].
New Sanitation Collaboration
OneXOne and GiveLove are working to promote improved sanitation and public health in Haiti by providing thousands of primary school students with clean compost toilets, and on-site compost centers. OneXOne is supporting the Green School program is Citi Soleil through direct grants to GiveLove’s EcoSan program.
The original classroom block has sustained significant structural damage and needs to be demolished. A strategic demolition, cleaning and rebuilding plan will need to be designed. The community should be actively involved in the plan, given the respect given to the institution by the neighborhood.
A living quarter may need to be implemented into the design along with electricity; given the fact that some of the teachers are currently living on site in tents with their families. A new sanitation facility needs to be provided in order to serve the large scale of students attending. The existing conditions are extremely unhealthy and cause a risk to the students’ well being.
Phasing will present the most significant initial challenge. Phasing will have to be designed to allow work to begin while allowing students to continue to attend classes. At the same time, the campus is now a residence for several teachers and staff members, who may not have alternative accommodation. The site itself is so dense, that demolition will present a particular challenge.
Given the density of the student population, addressing site utilities will also become a challenge. The school will have significant water, power and sanitation needs if it is done to international standards. The current water cistern and latrines are health hazards.
Access and delivery of material to the site may also be challenging, given the existing cluster of people, housing and narrow streets in the area. Navigating with a small SUV is challenging, larger trucks will prove more so.
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