World Shelters, in coordination with the Uber Shelter field team, is working to lease a privately-owned parcel of land in a Haitian neighborhood where we hope to erect 10 TShel2s. The lot is currently covered in trash and rubble, but with the innovative raised design of the TShel2 most of that rubble would not need to be moved in order to start building shelters. Each shelter only requires six small holes to be dug where the load-rated footings are anchored in concrete. In addition to building TShel2s on this lot World Shelters hopes to supplement them with solar panels, composting toilets, and water harvesters. These three basic additions will increase the quality of life as well as the safety of inhabitants exponentially, and all three can be added for less than the cost of the shelter itself.
For many families in Haiti the home is a woman’s workplace. In order to provide for and support her family, many women must endure harrowing and dangerous situations on a daily basis. The IDP camps harbor a constant threat of violent gangs and numerous instances of sexual violence have been reported, with undoubtedly many more going unreported or unnoticed. Even going to wait in line for clean water carries a risk to personal safety. If a woman can provide for herself and/or her family with electricity and a water tank in the home, not to mention the health and sanitation improvements a composting toilet will bring, there is a much greater opportunity for her to keep herself and, by extension, her children out of harm’s way. It also allows for the possibility of women working outside the home if they are not constantly tied down doing chores, allowing them to be productive members of the larger community as well.
If World Shelters was to build a 10-house settlement on this lot, it would create a true community where neighbors could support each other and allow for greater productivity among the settlement as a whole. Residents living in a more permanent neighborhood have greater opportunity to form personal connections and relationships with each other, which it is fair to say increases happiness in the long-term as well as providing possible reciprocal support such as babysitting or communal meals. Each family would need to be at least minimally productive in order to pay the small monthly rental fee, which encourages growth and development not only within the community but in Haiti as a whole, where productive workers are what is going to get the country heading in the right direction. Our plan also looks towards the future, with the Haitian land-owner taking ownership of the 10 units after 36 months so that the entire settlement becomes self-supporting. World Shelters Executive Director Bruce LeBel says, “If the shelter and land (and accessories like water harvesting) can be provided at a monthly price that productive workers can afford to pay, then there’s no need for government grants or agency donations or other largesse.” Our goal is to create an environment where inhabitants can provide for themselves in an economically sustainable manner by nurturing and encouraging productivity. World Shelters is currently in discussions with the Haitian land-owner and developing financing, but is hopeful that this great opportunity will be able to come to fruition.