Business, education keys to Haiti's recovery
MCC partner trains masons, educates at-risk children, recapitalizes small-businessesBy Sheldon C. Good Mennonite Weekly Review
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Before the magnitude-7 earthquake struck here almost two years ago, Ronald Sadou Zami struggled to find work. Like many Haitians, he had discovered multiple ways to earn minimal income. He wrote poems for schools, was a sewing machine mechanic and sometimes did masonry work.
Now, after participating in a masonry seminar led by Mennonite Central Committee, he has more consistent employment and earns more money for his family.
“I know things other masons don’t know,” said Zami, now 25. “There are things I knew before but was never able to put into practice.”
James Mwangi, an associate professor of architectural engineering at California Polytechnic State University who worked with MCC during his sabbatical, taught the masonry seminar in June 2010. About 40 students took the two-day class on how to build safe, disaster-resistant homes.
The Ecumenical Foundation for Peace and Justice, or FOPJ, an MCC partner for more than 13 years, hosted the seminar.
Zami, who also graduated from FOPJ’s masonry trade school in December 2010, is working on building a cluster of multipurpose, expandable classrooms at a small university.
He now knows disaster-resistant masonry practices such as how to properly tie rebar, select sand and secure buildings.
Much of Port-au-Prince’s post-earthquake rubble has been removed, and construction sites plaster the city. Open space is hard to come by, so working conditions like Zami’s are often cramped.
Zami’s cousin, Samuel Zami, 27, also participated in the masonry program and masonry seminar. He is now leading the construction of a three-story building, unusually high for this city.
“I went to [FOPJ’s masonry school] to improve my knowledge,” Samuel Zami said.
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