Construction Project Caps Intensive Job Training Program
Haitian construction students recently celebrated their successful completion of earthquake- and hurricane-resistant primary school classrooms in Jacmel, Haiti.
The two large rooms—capable of accommodating 80 children—mark the last milestone of the trainees’ intensive six-month vocational training funded through ACDI/VOCA's REACH program.
“This program really hit a chord here in Jacmel and has set the pace for others to follow,” says ACDI/VOCA-Haiti Chief of Party Emmet Murphy.
REACH (Rural Economy Acceleration in Haiti) is a small-grants program generously funded by ACDI/VOCA's community through the VOCA Fund to support job generation in Haiti’s Southeast Department following the devastating 2010 earthquake.
Local Leaders, Community Celebrate
Families of the graduates, NGO representatives and government authorities attended the students' graduation ceremony on April 28. Jacmel’s mayor and police commissioner attended as well as representatives from the ministries of Public Works, Education, and Planning and Cooperation, among other high officials.
Regional Director of the Ministry of Public Works Max André Vilma congratulated ACDI/VOCA for offering such a "great example for others to follow" and its "valuable contribution in the reconstruction of Haiti." His signature graced the certificates presented to the graduates.
ACDI/VOCA volunteer Kent Allen—who made two trips to Haiti from Wyoming to share his expertise in seismic- and hurricane-resistant building techniques—attended the graduation and congratulated the students.
Allen also inspected the construction project and suggested final adjustments.
"This is a good student-level project, that, when the few corrections are made," Allen says, "I would feel very safe standing in during an earthquake."
The graduates expressed their gratitude for his help and presented him with a gift.
Students Receive Tools, Prepared to Work
ACDI/VOCA equipped the new graduates with tool kits so they are immediately prepared for their new profession.
Many of the tools were donated to ACDI/VOCA's REACH program by "Random Acts," a charity founded by actor Misha Collins. Additional tools and toolboxes were purchased locally with REACH funds by ACDI/VOCA and our partner APTECH, a Haitian educational organization that conducted the construction training.
Jobs Training Benefits Residents of Haiti's Southeast Department
Haiti, the poorest country in the hemisphere, is still challenged by the disaster. In addition to pre-existing problems, the Southeast Department harbors a large number of earthquake survivors displaced from Port-au-Prince, who face significant challenges providing for themselves and their families.
ACDI/VOCA coordinated with local educators, including the regional director for the department of education, to choose the school construction project as a means of boosting local livelihoods.
Principal Louiger Anna says about the new classrooms, which are additions to a primary school supported by the Haiti government: "Nou te telman bezwen lòt sal sa yo paske nou te oblije mete 2 klas diferan nan yon sèl sal e timoun yo te yonn sou lòt, mèsi anpil anpil." (Translation: We needed those rooms so much, [before] we had to put two classes in one room and the kids were one on top of the other. Thank you so very much.").
Already some REACH graduates are gainfully employed, having taken jobs at MedAir, an emergency relief NGO that builds shelters for victims of the 2010 earthquake.
Pictured at top left: REACH graduates with diplomas.