New structures for helping Haiti rebuild
While most of the Haitians that were displaced by the devastating earthquake of more than a year ago are still living in tent cities and shacks made of plywood, one organization is working to erect fiberglass domes in some of the most stricken areas of the country. In September 2010, the non-profit CAN-DO.org (Compassion into Action Network – Direct Outcome Organization) with a grant from the Boehm-Gladen Foundation launched the Haiti Domes Project to create complete living communities of fiberglass domes for medical clinics, schools, community structures, and family housing.
Local Haitian company Composites Karayib has partnered with CAN-DO.org to manufacture the domes at a factory in Port-Au-Prince, and the project is currently providing about 30 Haitians with jobs in assembling, transporting, and outfitting the structures for different community needs.
Eric Klein started CAN-DO.org in 2004 after seeing the lack of organization in distributing aid to the victims of the tsunami in Indonesia. Klein, who has been on the ground in Haiti since January 2010, became frustrated by a similar situation occurring in Haiti in the aftermath of the quake; despite billions of dollars of aid that has funneled into the country in the past year, he says very little of it has visibly improved the living conditions for the Haitian people. Unlike some of the larger agencies on the ground in Haiti, CAN-DO.org was committed to finding an innovative, lasting solution that could be easily deployed across communities.
“The whole idea behind my organization was born from being fed up with the lack of accountability,” says Klein. “We want to be giving donors and the victims of Haiti actual, tangible results.” Klein’s organization is utilizing domes made of fiberglass because of the durable nature of the material, which allows the structures to stand up to fire, rain, and winds of up to 130 miles per hour. The domes have a life expectancy of more than 25 years. The innovation behind the project comes from the flexible and turnkey design of the domes, with parts that can be configured in multiple ways and take on various shapes. Depending on the intended use of the dome, it can easily be expanded, taken apart and reassembled. According to CAN-DO.org, two semi-skilled workers can put a dome together in about a half-hour.
The design also allows them to quickly adapt and tailor the structures to different communities. For example, the first of the dome structures was placed in September 2010 for the J/P Haitian Relief Organization (founded by Sean Penn) for use as a five-bed labor and delivery unit. Currently, an average of 15 babies are being born per week in the birthing clinic and it is also used as part of a 16-class labor and delivery training program for Haitian nurses. Most recently, two domes were placed in the city of Croix-des-Bouquets in January to serve as classrooms for a school of 1,200 students. According to Klein, the school has been operating outside its damaged buildings under a sunshade since the earthquake, and is now able to use the domes to provide indoor seating for 120 students at a time.
Ron Boehm, co-founder of the Boehm-Gladen Foundation said: “The Boehm-Gladen Foundation has partnered with CAN-DO.org on the Haiti Domes Project and the Community Revitalization Centers because we like the organization’s approach, which favors collaboration, employing Haitians, fast action, transparent and accountable use of funds, and cost efficiency.”