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Cameron Sinclair Headshot

Haiti: Children, Children Everywhere and Not a Place to Teach

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While my colleagues on the ground in Haiti struggle to comprehend the destruction of communities, I sit in the almost eerie quietness of post-World Economic Forum Davos. For the past four days a coalition of attendees have pushed Haiti into every aspect of the annual meeting. Divided into two camps there are the long term economic development group and the NGOs, businesses and individuals focused on reconstruction. Given that we build after disaster, we fell into the latter.

Collaborate for Impact
While rigorous debate over involvement and collaboration bounded about the winter slopes, reports on the ground began to give a true sense of the long term impact. Architecture for Humanity has half a dozen initiatives underway but none more important than the development and building of safe and affordable educational facilities. Partnering with groups like the Barefoot Foundation and Haitian School Initiative as well as on the ground NGOs like Concern, Save The Children and YouthAIDS/PSI we can create a holistic plan for temporary, transitional and permanent schools.

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Barefoot Foundation founder Shakira inspecting school construction drawings

Currently 25% of all schools have been destroyed in Haiti and the UN reports 100% in Western Port-au-Prince and 40% in Southern Port-au-Prince. The UN has estimated that 4,000 temporary classrooms will be needed -- however this is not an earthquake, this is an earthquake with hurricane season coming in four months. Yet Concern Worldwide reports that less than 3% of humanitarian assistance goes to fund education programs. We will build hurricane resistant structures and more importantly ALL innovative structures need to be open-sourced and available for all groups.

Students Step Up
Tomorrow sees the formal launch of Students Rebuild, an initiative for K-12 students to raise funds to build school in Haiti. Supported by the Bezos Family Foundation, school groups are challenged to raise $2,500 with a dollar for dollar match up to $1/2M. The first school to sign up hails from New Orleans and were evacuated during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. These students know the true loss of lack of access to education.

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Port au Prince student. Photo taken Aug. 2009

Over time the Students Rebuild website will document and record the rebuilding process letting students understand the hurdles faced when building a country with a severed infrastructure and great need. Over time the site will include video reports from the field showing the true heroes of rebuilding -- the Haitian people. It is important to remember that the Haitians were not only the first responders, they will inevitably be the last responders. Let's build the future they want to see.