As of June 2012
The design phase of the library has begun! In June 2012, Terry Smith, Chair of the SCEH Library Committee, and Jenifer Grant, SCEH Director, travelled to Deschapelles and met with Luquece Belizaire, President of ODES, and Patrick Dominique. Luquece, who has much experience in contruction in Deschapelles, has agreed to serve as Construction Project Manager. Patrick is a Haitian engineer who has agreed to advise Luquece and the SCEH and ODES Library Committees with regard to engineering issues.
In March 2012, Hope Proctor, a New Haven architect and Essex resident, Terry Smith, Chair of the SCEH Library Committee, and Kathleen Maher traveled to Deschapelles, Haiti to visit the site for the library and discuss the design with our Haitian partner, ODES. It was a very productive visit.
Stage 1: Obtaining the land–COMPLETED. In February 2012, a long-term renewable lease agreement was entered into with a Haitian-American for a parcel of land located near the main road running through the center of Deschapelles. The lease can only be terminated by the lessor at the end of each 10-year term. If he chooses to terminate, he must pay us 75% of the cost of the building for the library. The lease continues until such amount is paid. On the March visit, Hope confirmed that the site for the library is very good: large enough for the library, outbuildings, and future planned activities; not subject to flooding; flat and cleared; and well-located within the town.
Stage 2: Designing the building—UNDERWAY. During the March visit, Hope was able to observe local building styles, learn about local construction, and meet with the ODES Library Committee to discuss programmatic needs. Hope will revise the plans she presented at the March 2 SCEH have a Heart for Haiti fundraiser. As this building will be of major importance to Deschapelles, we are working to ensure that it reflects well on the community and Haitian culture. The library will be as open as possible providing flexible and adaptable space for tables and chairs for study and for educational and cultural activities. The building is anticipated to be 2,000-3,000 square feet and may be constructed in phases.
In addition to collaborating with ODES, Hope is working with three other architects on the SCEH Library Committee including two Haitian architects and one familiar with construction in Haiti. Another member of the committee has a background in design and is helping us to explore sources for lighting, power (including solar power), and other technology (e.g. internet).
Hope and Terry are also researching a possible design of the building using portables.
Stage 3: Getting Estimates and Seeking Grants—UNDERWAY. A Deschapelles resident who has experience in building a sizeable structure in Deschapelles has agreed to serve as Project Manager. He will provide preliminary estimates based upon Hope’s preliminary drawings. The ODES and SCEH Library Committees are each identifying and seeking grants for the library in both Haiti and the United States.
The next stage, preparing the site for construction (e.g. digging a well, installing composting latrines, and securing the site through construction of a wall and guardhouse), can be initiated while we are working on Stages 2 and 3. The actual building of the library will take place as soon as we are able. One goal of SCEH is to employ local craftsmen and materials as much as possible.
Our friends in Deschapelles and all ODES members warmly welcomed Hope. We are all very grateful for the collaborative sprit with which we are working on this project.
As we move forward with the construction of the library, we already have selected three individuals to run the library. Besly Belizaire and Charles Odverne, residents of Deschapelles, have successfully completed an internship program with FOKAL (see below) and will become Assistant Librarians. We are hopeful that our Librarian candidate, MacKenzie Charles, will be able to participate in the FOKAL Librarian Training Program in the very near future, which we have been advised is almost near completion but is still under development.
As plans for construction of the library become solidified, the Essex Library Committee will refocus our efforts on the Library’s collection and materials. We are grateful for the efforts already made to underwrite the costs of books and materials. We are particularly grateful to the Chester, Deep River and Essex Rotary Clubs for their commitment to purchase 1,000 books for the library–an effort well underway. Thank-you!!