HDC Site Visit
On Saturday February 26th, Kurt and I went with 30 members of the deaf community to visit the property The 410 Bridge is considering for the deaf community project. The land was found by Georgia Nichols who has been working with the deaf community since the tent city was established after the earthquake. Georgia has been in Haiti over 20 years running a construction business. Her brother in law is deaf and she has a special place in hear heart for the deaf and this project. She has been a great asset to the project and we are so blessed for her assistance!
At first a few community members did not like the land; they thought it was too far from Port au Prince. It can take up to an hour to get to the land from where the current deaf camp is located. With Haiti traffic, any ten minute trip can quickly turn into an hour. Kurt and I went with Georgia in January to look at the land. In the month since we first visited we noticed many changes. There were churches, homes and new shops that were not there during our first visit. It is clear this is an area near Port au Prince that is ideal property.
The land is promising for a few reasons. 410 Bridge has looked at over 15 different pieces of land in and around Port au Prince; many of them did not meet the three standards necessary to purchase land. Most had a land deeds that were questionable and too risky, others were far too small and most were too expensive. The land that was found is not a requirement for the deaf to move, it is however the option we have come up with. There is good history with the deed of the property; this is not easy to find in Haiti. A struggle with finding land is often we do not know if the person trying to sell the land is in fact the owner. There is plenty of land to purchase at this site; we are looking at 20 acres. There is water under the ground making it accessible for wells to be drilled, and electrical lines already run through the property. The land is also reasonably priced compared to what it is selling for. After the earthquake there are many large organizations in Haiti looking to purchase land and are willing to spend a million dollars per acre. As a result land in and around Port au Prince has dramatically increased.
The land the deaf community currently occupy is owned by the Haitian government. There is a risk involved with staying as the Haitian government may reclaim the land at any time. The IFRC (International Federation of the Red Cross) has built the temporary wooden shelters at La Piste (where the current deaf community is) in way that they can be cut off at the bottom and moved if necessary.
There are many details of the project that are constantly changing and being worked out. There are also many organizations involved with the deaf community here in Haiti who are helping, it is critical for those organizations to work together for the betterment of the permanent community for the deaf. I believe the last thing any of the organizations seeking to help the deaf want is duplicity or improper use of our resources and collective gifts as well as the gifts of the Deaf community in Haiti. If the many organizations working don’t communicate effectively and coordinate their efforts we will risk duplicity and potentially undermine our mutual objectives; to assist in improving the quality of life of the Deaf community in Haiti. It is possible that many people, from multiple organizations will be working side-by-side to build a permanent, sustainable community.
The long process of this project has begun. In a follow up meeting with Georgia and those wh
o visited the land, members of the Deaf community spoke with family and friends also living at the camp about the proposed land option. We did our best to explain the details of the project and again explained why the land was chosen. It is a busy and bright future ahead.