Haiti Thinking Development

Some 4,000 schools were destroyed or damaged in the 2010 Haiti earthquake. But even before that, around one third of Haitian children didn’t go to school. 

So, today’s there’s a real urgency for hundreds of new, safe schools for the thousands of young minds currently excluded from basic education.

Thinking Development are working with one of the country’s largest educators of women to create a disaster-resilient, eco-friendly and replicable school for one of Port-au-Prince’s largest girls’ school complexes. When finished, it will serve as an open-source modular design that can be built and maintained by Haitians, and that can be easily adapted elsewhere in Haiti’s dense cities. Visit thinkingdevelopment.org if you'd like to get involved.

INTERVIEW

We talked with Linda O’Halloran, project founder, over a few beers in our Doodle Bar...

Tell us how this project came about?
I became involved after I received an email telling me about the destruction of schools and homes caused by the 2010 earthquake. The email came through a schools network and was asking for help. I was at University College London (UCL) at the time studying philosophy and knew development planners.

The call was asking for any help they could get, so I thought I could try to connect them to sustainable development expertise. After trying to find an NGO to take the project on, we ended up starting the planning process ourselves, as everyone else could only focus on emergency and transitional shelter, with little recourse to its long-term implications.

How did you develop this plan?

I sent out a call for  expertise through university networks and found a group of urban design researchers who werekeen to help. After some initial scoping and planning, 2 experienced architects from the group came with me to Haiti in July 2010. We completed an initial design consultation with the children and teachers and went back a year later with a solid plan.

How did you get Squint involved?

It was serendipitous, someone on our mailing list put me in touch, they were a friend-of-a friend and knew Nick (Nick Taylor, Squint Director) and had previously worked with Squint on another project.

The campaign has exceeded its target by raising over US $65,000.

How did the video help the project?
The video is an extremely useful way to communicate what we are doing and why. It enables viewers to connect with the project, and to become ambassadors for us. The process of making it was rigorous because if forced us to consolidate our brand and be clear about what we were trying to achieve. In hindsight, I wish we had done the video sooner.

What is the situation today?
It’s good news. The campaign has exceeded its target by raising over US$65,000. Construction could begin later this summer, but we need to negotiate a partnership with an NGO to complete the funding and deliver the project.

What impact do you think the project will have when it is realised?
When the school is built it will be a real achievement for everyone involved. It will symbolise local pride and progress,it will significantly increase access to girls’ education in a vulnerable neighbourhood, and it will provide flexible meeting, learning and open space for the local community.

How can people get involved?
The best way would be to run a fundraising event and send details of rich friends who’d like to donate! People can also go on our website for more details: (http://www.thinkingdevelopment.org/).

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