Rodney Johnson's Shelter in Haiti
My name is Rodney Johnson my family and I lived in Haiti and stated a Church and a Bible College. I had to leave in the spring of 04 due to illness. I have MS however my health has done better for the last year. I am new to earthbag building and have been working with Owen and Kelly on a plan for an emergency shelter that fit the houses that Haitians live in. My wife and I speak Hatian Creole, and will leave for our first trip March 9-18, 2010.
We are going to try to build at least one structure while we are there this time, I hope. I have so many unanswerd questions, that I hope to get answered on this trip. My main ones are: where to build? This sounds simple, however it is complex.
Most of the poor Haitians rented before EQ and do not have land. In Port that is 95% of the people. There are two classes of people. Rich and poor, there are a few in between but not many.
I bought a small piece of land there in 2003 for the church and it was approx. 100'x100'. The price of land in PAP is or was very high especially for a forigner. We built in PAP off of Delmas 83 Rue Begonia at Calvary Baptist Church. (Legliz Batis Kalve) If you are in Port you are welcome to go by and see the structure we built.
I am very interested in these buildings for the Haitian people. We have Haitians living outside under tarps now. I am raising $ from churches and individuals for my trip. 40 people are sleeping on the church property. I saw Mercedes parked near tents. Even if engineers tell them the building is safe they do not want to go inside.
Many of the people live on hillsides. From looking at the design they could dig into the side of a hill for dirt and make a flat spot for the structure. Inside PAP land is very expensive and I am looking for places to build these houses for people where they can live and not have to pay rent the rest of their life to live there. Many poor Hatians do not own land, the house they lived in was rented, so we need a place to build.
Most of the current buildings, especially of poor people (which is most of Haiti), used cinder blocks and concrete. If we can recycle that in any way we will.
To ship supplies I need through Missionary Flights International (MFI) or Agape Flights will cost me $1.50 a lb.
Planning to dig out the floor some 6-8 inches and use cinder block fill again and pour a concrete floor.
I may have to cut back on some things for price, however this would be comparable to what most people in PAP lived in before EQ, probably better. I plan to use a tin roof, wood poles for porch if needed.
A friend of mine in the city of Goniaves, city N of PAP has had a container there since Feb. 2, they cant get it out of customs.
I have a contact through a friend, of another shipping company if still in Business after EQ. This man said he shipped 2700 LBS. for $600.00. That included customs, and you don't pay till you pick it up. If this is the case and they are still operating my shipping problem is solved.
Building supplies are sky rocketing. A truckload of sand before the EQ was a $1000.00 Haitian dollars. It has gone to $1500.00.
I have tried to give you an idea of what I am hearing from people in PAP (Port Au Prince) now. Building away from PAP, or outside the city would be easier, tucking in dirt and materials to building sites may be our only option. But the price of building then goes up.
Had the pastor of the church buy rebar, wood for roof, metal for roof, cement. When I get home next week I will figure up exactly what I spent for structure, 12×22, 2 rooms.
The other problem I still have is places to build. I am working on some contacts I have made and praying that God will work that out.
The structure we built this time is for temporary shelter and then to be used later as school rooms. The pastor, Tony Ledbetter (Missionary I started the church with), and I did not want to build the house that Owen and I designed for fear that people would not leave when it was time.
Every Haitian I have spoken with except one that runs a guest house is homeless. They will cook etc… but all that I have spoken with will not sleep inside from fear of another EQ, rich or poor. The need is huge for housing.
This is the first one I have built so I was learning as I go to. The Haitians caught on quickly. One man was on the property and was the boss for putting a block security wall up they were just finishing. He was watching and has been there every day learning. I am sure he could build these houses after I am here to build one more.
I used the corrugated metal bond beam and liked it very much. Next time I would have more layers of it in the wall.
I plan to put on a bond beam, metal roof. The doors are already built to go into concrete structures so I am thinking with not much work they could be used in the earthbag structures.
I am going to use 2×4 for bond beam.
Things I would do diff rent:
4. My costs were higher because I had to buy soil and rock for the foundation. Next time a reinforced concrete foundation would cost just as much but be more familiar.
5. Next time I would not build buttresses, to save time and space, except for at the front porch.
Most ordinary Haitians need people to teach them how to build. And they need financial help to purchase supplies.
The bags hardened up well in 2 days or so, but the wall stiffened a lot with the bond beam.
I used light weight metal to cut staples used to attach chicken wire and to close bags up. I planned to use a cement plaster. I saw they used cement plaster on the house they had already built in Haiti.
Things are going well. I'm going to try to get done today and have a lot to do to finish today. Haitians will plaster and put the roof on after we are gone. It has been more expensive than I thought. Here is a picture of how far we have gotten.
I am still in Haiti so we can try to finish. This is a build as we go emergency structure. It was expensive because of my time restraints I had to purchase everything. Rock for foundation, dirt, etc.. 1 load of rock 200 US, 7 Loads of dirt 100 US each. The dirt was a little rocky, however it was a perfect sandy clay. It rained all night, I have a few rows of bags left to put on, too wet to work today.
There is a new hardware store across from US Embassy that had Barb Wire 4-pt., lumber, nails, chicken wire, shovels, rope, pick ax, wire to sew bags, gloves for Haitian workers. Bought some tarps in case I needed them and planned to give to Haitians. Paid workers 30 Haitian dollars a day (4 US) I used 5 and also gave extra $ to pastor to pay any ladies helping etc.
Haiti Earthbag Building Costs