Lifespace Gardens in Haiti
I first went to Haiti on a Global Builders trip in April 2013 following the earthquake. A friend of mine who had been to Haiti before was now a trip leader and got me interested. At that point in time there was still a state of chaos, roads barely driveable, and electricity was a luxury. We flew into Port Au Prince, I was shocked. I had seen the news, looked up photos and stories online of what to expect, and it was just so much more than what I had imagined. The desperation and devastation was so real.
Historically they had been building their homes brick by brick when they had money, and not using rebar and proper building techniques simply because it was too expensive. This was a key problem in why the earthquake was so bad, because houses weren’t built properly and easily crumbled.
After flying into the epicentre of it all we made our way to Leogane where global builders was building houses in a small village. It was here that we assisted local families with proper building techniques that could withstand another earthquake. The families and people I met in Lambi village were so kind and really such amazing people. I fell in love with Haiti.
Fast forward to October 2014 and I got to go back for the final build of Lambi. By this time so many families had already built their homes and had jobs to work and pay their houses off. The fundraising for these trips goes to buying materials, paying local Haitian workers a fair wage, and to the upfront purchase of the house. Their philosophy is to give a hand up not a hand out. The families that are selected are hard working families that just need a hand getting back into a house while they work and take care of their children. Micro financing and mortgages basically don’t exist in Haiti so this is a way for people to get into a house and pay it off over time.
In April 2017 a group of us who had met over the previous builds signed up for another global builders trip to the Central Plateau of Haiti in the city of Pignon. This was a much different area but exact same principle. We helped local workers build right from the breaking of the ground to erecting the walls to massive latrine dig outs!
Pignon is a beautiful part of Haiti and is home to many farmers. I thought it would be such a good opportunity to bring some LifeSpace gardens down and educate them on how effective they are at growing food. Lifespace was more than willing to donate some boxes for the trip. We raised money to source wood and materials locally which proved to be a difficult but fun task! Riding around in a motorcycle truck of sorts we found a hardware store and a wood yard a few kilometres away from the build site. Driving through Pignon with the wood loaded up sticking 12’ off the end of the motorcycle was quite the sight.
Often on these builds the are children of the families are around, it was fun to involve some of the kids in the building of the gardens. They learned how to measure and lay out box joints and then how to cut them out with a cordless jig saw. Something they had definitely never seen before. Was pretty cool to see how fast they caught on, I’m sure they could build a garden of their own!
We ended up doing 5 gardens in total and we donated them to families that had houses previously built by global builder teams. Each family got to chose a spot where they wanted the garden. We had a translator with us and gave a crash course on how it worked and what they could plant. Tomatoes, plantains, and root vegetables seemed to be the top choices. It was fun to see the smiles on their faces when they were done and I hope the gardens continue to bring smiles... and food. I hope to see updates on them soon but communication is not easy....which means I may just have to go back.
- Mike Adair