The need for a library was obvious. There was no community center in Deschapelles. No bookstore. No public access to computers. Because electricity was scarce, students had no place to study at night. They often sat with their homework under the few street lights on the hospital grounds.
SCEH and ODES created separate Library Committees to work with one another to establish a plan with the following steps:
- identify a building site
- design and build the library, gatehouse, and perimeter fencing
- choose sources of electricity and water
- furnish the library with book shelves, tables, chairs, floor cushions
- locate suitable books in French, Kreyol and English
- provide computers
- provide educational games for children
- provide blackboards and slate boards, as paper is a luxury many cannot afford
- raise the funds needed to build the library and cover operational costs
IT WAS A BIG DREAM BUT SCEH AND ODES GOT TO WORK!
In February 2012, a long-term renewable lease was entered into with a Haitian-American with deep ties to Deschapelles for a parcel of land located near the main road. Previously used for growing crops, the land was highly suitable for constructing a library building. The land is large enough for the library, outbuildings, and future planned activities; not subject to flooding; flat and cleared; and well-located within the town.
The library represents a tremendous amount of work by Hope Proctor, an Essex architect, who worked with three other architects on the SCEH Library Committee including two Haitian architects and one familiar with construction in Haiti.They all volunteered their time. Preparing the site for construction also included the digging of a well and installation of composting latrines.
ODES employed many residents of Deschapelles providing much needed income for their families. Almost all the building materials were purchased in Haiti.
WHO TO THANK?
Many thanks to the Digicel Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to building stronger, more resilient communities throughout Haiti. Many thanks as well to FOKAL (La Fondation Connaissance et Liberté/Fondasyon Konesans Ak Libète), an independent foundation in Haiti supported by the Open Society Institute and other international and local organizations, that provides a range of education, human development and economic activities to local communities in Haiti. FOKAL has served the Deschapelles library as a source for administrative guidelines, technical assistance, and training for several of our librarians and staff at no charge.
We are grateful to the Chester, Deep River and Essex Rotary Clubs for $10,000 to purchase books for the library and the support of Regional School District # 4, particularly Essex Elementary School that was one of our earliest and most ardent supporters.
Of course, we could not have built the library without the support of so many individual donors and businesses in the community. Thank you!