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Housing for Haitians

A eco friendly housing initiative for the homeless population in Haiti that incorporates their strong sense of community living.

Photo of Caroline
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

My project idea is to build houses for communities in Haiti, using reclaimed wood and hemp concrete, making them very environmentally friendly. On top of this, I would create a small community garden at a central point of the houses, incorporating their strong sense of community. This will hopefully maintain their very strong community living style, while also providing the safety, health benefits, and comfort, of having your own home. The home should be made of reclaimed wood, and a concrete alternative made of hemp called “hempcrete”. By using reclaimed wood, I would be decreasing the need for lumber, hence decreasing deforestation. The lumber industry is one of the main threats to many of the world’s largest rainforests, so by using reclaimed wood, that would have been thrown away or discarded if not used, I would be greatly helping the planet. Hempcrete is a great help to the environment as it is made from the cellulose part of the hemp plant, causing it to actually absorb around 700 pounds of carbon dioxide for every 2000 pounds of hempcrete. This will clean and filter the air, providing better quality for everyone in the community. In addition to this, hempcrete can create walls up to 14 inches thick, providing amazing temperature control and insulation. This hempcrete also has the potential to absorb heat and re release later at night, for better temperature control and better living conditions. Improving living conditions is also crucial to health and preventing the spread of diseases or viruses. As for the garden, it would be made of any materials that we either have found on site, or extra that we bring, such as more reclaimed wood, plastic trash found on site, old tires or other rubber products, or hempcrete. Here we will grow multiple crops that can survive solely on the rain water and humidity of the natural Haitian climate. Some of the crops that grow best in Haiti would be corn, Jerusalem Artichokes, Southern Peas, sweet potatoes, and yellow onions.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

The people who will benefit from this project would be the homeless and hungry population of Haiti. After the earthquake in 2010, 2.3 million people were left homeless, and over 85,000 people remain homeless. By providing healthy and fresh produce, when combined with safe and sustainable housing, will bring improved living conditions to homeless people in Haiti, as well as improving health and promoting healthy living. I would focus on smaller communities and try to make sure that I respect it and incorporate that into my community design.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

The people who will benefit from this project would be the homeless and hungry population of Haiti. After the earthquake in 2010, 2.3 million people were left homeless, and over 85,000 people remain homeless. By providing healthy and fresh produce, when combined with safe and sustainable housing, I will bring improved living conditions to homeless people in Haiti, as well as improving health. I would focus on smaller communities and try to make sure that I respect it and incorporate that into my community design. My idea is unique because it takes a bunch of amazing ideas, such as using reclaimed wood, using hempcrete, or implementing a community garden, and combines them to bring the most prosperity and better living. My idea is different because instead of just building homes and then leaving, I would build the homes, the garden, and then make sure that they know how to grow food sufficiently and teach others in their community, to create more sustainable and reliable food source.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Initial Design: I am exploring the idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

I am a junior at Notre Dame High School in Belmont California, I am currently taking the Environmental science class at my school and we have been learning all year about sustainability and social and environmental peace and prosperity.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

While this project was initially assigned as part of my Environmental Science class, I have become increasingly interested in this project and would love being a part of it. I am so privileged and grateful for everything that I have, and I want to use this to help others. I am also really inspired by my mission trip that I go on each year to Tijuana to build homes.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Planet and prosperity both connect to my project through my goals, methods, and environmental awareness. By using the hemp concrete and reclaimed wood, I will be reducing the usual environmental damage caused by traditional housing. By using these eco friendly materials, not only am I not harming the planet, but I am actually helping it. As the hemp concrete absorbs carbon dioxide and removes it from the environment, it is extremely beneficial and actually acts a filter. Using reclaimed wood will reduce the need for deforestation and the destruction of so many of our beautiful forests around the globe. My idea connects to the idea of prosperity mainly through the free, reliable, housing, and the sustainable and healthy food source. As many the majority of Haitians make less than two dollars and forty one cents (U.S.D) everyday, it can be very hard to break the cycle of homelessness and malnutrition.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

I would hope that my project idea would be primarily supported and helped by the Haitian community. I want the community to feel empowered and involved, instead of my team doing all of the work, I really would want the community to feel involved. One of the big parts of my project is centered around of community and is all about the community thriving even after we leave. With The garden, I would want the community members to be able to sustain it and keep it going and teach others how to grow their own produce. Addition to this there are multiple housing and gardening initiatives already in Haiti and getting support and help from them would also be amazing.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Some of the strengths of the community that I would be serving, is that they are so community based and hold this sense of community very dear to themselves. No matter where they live or whether they are homeless or not, they always are willing to help each other and always take care of their neighbors. This is important because I want to design my communities around this idea, instead of separating the families, I will bring them together and give them a garden to all work on together.

Geographic Focus

My project would target the homeless community in Haiti, anyone who is struggling with finding homes

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

This project idea would most likely take up to 24 months (2 years). The planning and logistics will take up the majority of the time, it once we actually get to Haiti to build homes, it will not take that much time. I know this because I have gone on multiple mission trips to build homes in Mexico and for three homes, it takes us one week to complete. The one thing that would take the longest time would be getting the materials and the land and space to build homes.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

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Photo of Kevin Adair
Team

Hi Caroline, It's great that you are taking an interest in Haiti, and it's wonderful that your school is encouraging you to explore these ideas. I was wondering if you considered on what land you might build the houses you have in mind. Land ownership in Haiti is one of the challenges there. So, I thought I would mention that for you to think about.

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