In July, one of our deacons, Dan Snow, and I went to Haiti to investigate, plan, and prepare for a church rebuilding project. Our objectives were largely accomplished to the glory of God. I think the Haitian pastors were wary at first of our intentions. But after several conversations, discussions, and a visit to an undamaged structure nearby they understood our heart and a little better what needed to be done.
Here is what we saw:
1. A lot of fallen buildings. The streets have been cleared of rubble, but individual lots have been left for the property owners to clear with little to no assistance from the UN.
2. Some rebuilding is occurring. However, they are building on the same foundations that failed in the earthquake with the same materials and workmanship. People are wary of two-story buildings, new or existing.
3. People spend most of their day on the streets. Tents are terrible places to be during the heat of the day; they are mostly just slept in. Getting water and food takes up most of the day.
4. The cost of living is about the same as here in the USA, but a skilled laborer earns only $10–12/day. Obviously this combination gives new meaning to subsistence living.
5. Orphans. My thoughts on these will be a whole other entry.
Here is what we concluded:
1. Rebuilding the church rather than homes would be the best approach, as it would become a center in the community for learning new building skills, a paying job, water, and other forms of education along with a place of worship and a testimony to the neighborhood.
2. We need to hire Haitians rather than bringing in large numbers of American work crews. Haiti has little mechanization available but plenty of raw labor. We want to help Haitians by giving them jobs and on-the-job training. The difficulty this creates stateside is generating and sustaining interest in people and churches who will never swing a hammer or visit the country. We believe that this is something God will overcome in people’s hearts so as to keep people engaged in this project for years to come.
3. Alternative building methods (even by U.S. standards) should be used. They are labor intensive but very sound and use materials readily available and inexpensive. We have decided to use what has come to be called “earthbag” construction. All the necessary materials were located in Haiti during our trip.
4. Quality tools need to be provided, as they are at a premium if available at all.
5. A 5–6kw diesel generator needs to be left at each church during and after it is rebuilt. (Gas is over $5/gallon, but diesel is cheaper than it is in the U.S.) Deep-cycle marine batteries should also be used in final install.
6. Fruit orchards should be planted at each church site. Land purchase and soil prep should be done if necessary.
Here is what we want to do:
First church to be rebuilt—Evangelical Baptist Church of LiLavois, Haiti
Pastor Rony Lapointe
Purchase adjacent empty lot
Excavation and site preparation, including raising the site 1 foot to enable proper drainage and replacing 2 feet of salty earth with “black earth” on one-fourth the site for planting.
Drill a well and install a septic system.
Purchase 5.5kw diesel generator.
Build new footers around the existing ones rather than removing them.
Build two adjoining one-story buildings rather than the two-story original.
Build a perimeter wall.
With labor we anticipate this to cost $40,000–45,000.
Desert Hills Baptist Church in Albuquerque, N.M., will take the lead role on this project both financially and with personnel. As a mission church itself, our financial resources are limited. Any monetary assistance would be greatly appreciated and directly applied to this project, with any leftover monies applied to the next church to be rebuilt. You prayers for this project are needed, requested, and expected!
Simultaneous rebuilding of multiple churches is possible if other churches want to get involved by taking the lead in them.
Gifts can be sent to Gospel Literature Services Emergency Relief Fund—Haiti or directly to Desert Hills Baptist Church: 1119 86th St. SW Albuquerque, NM 87121.
We hope to begin construction in November if the Lord enables!