In Haiti, widespread poverty and tradition have led to the modern-day “restavek” system. A restavek is a child who is sent by his or her parents to work for a host household as a domestic servant, often because the parents lack the resources to support the child. There are an estimated 300,000 restavek children in Haiti, the majority being girls.
In the worst cases, restavek children are abused and lack access to proper hygiene, nutrition, and education. The purpose of this project was to assist our client, Live Different, in their desire to bring young girls out of these most desperate situations and aid them in transitioning into a more dignified life. The project was appropriately named "The Freedom Village".
I led a multi-disciplinary design team to survey the project site, investigate local building materials, and work closely with Live Different representatives to help translate their dreams for The Freedom Village into an appropriate design.
The project site was located on the side of a mountain (much of the site was at a 44% slope). This presented a huge, unique challenge to our design team. Building on such a steep slope is challenging even in Canadian/American contexts. With limited access to certain construction materials, site inaccessibility, and a highly active seismic zone, the challenge became even greater.
Our design team successfully navigated this challenge to produce a cohesive design for the small campus, which included a community centre, five family units to house up to 30 girls, a mechanical building, and a guest house to be used for income generation, along with all associated infrastructure. As of December 2020, the site work - including a site wall and multiple substantial retaining walls, has been completed.
Braden understands the balance between local and international engineering practices and leverages this knowledge to form a team of engineers that produce results. But above that, and what sets him apart from most, is his commitment to deeply understand the needs and desires of the community by connecting directly with the people affected by the project. For us at Live Different, those are the details that truly matter.
Director of International Operations at Live Different
Rendering of The Freedom Village dining hall (produced by EMI Canada)