Former students in Haiti building homes for earthquake survivors

One former and one current student from Texas A&M’s College of Architecture were roommates for a week in Leogane, Haiti in November, part of a Habitat for Humanity effort to build homes in the city ravaged by a 2010 earthquake and hurricane.

“Our group built 100 homes while we were there from Nov. 7-11,” said Ashley Ricketson, a sophomore Bachelor of Environmental Design major. “Families will move into their new homes by January.”

Devastation from the natural disasters, said Ricketson’s roommate, former environmental design student Courtney Brinegar ’07, is still evident.

“Little marketplaces, residential communities and schools are all but in ruins,” she said in a blog from Haiti. “I don’t think I’ve seen a complete building since I’ve been here. Everything is either a broken building or a shelter thrown together of scrap materials.”

Volunteers worked in teams of 8-10 people, adding pre-assembled wood-framed walls and trusses to already-existing concrete slabs. After their workdays, said Brinegar, a technical designer at Gensler, a global architecture, design, planning and consulting firm, the volunteers  “roughed it” in primitive camp conditions, then headed by bus in the morning for a 30-minute ride back to the jobsite.

Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter and his wife Roslaynn, who spearheaded the effort, and country music singers Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, married since 2005, were also pounding nails and raising roofs, said Brinegar

Haiti has a long road to recovery, she said.

“It was hard seeing the bleak state of a country that happens to be in the midst of such a beautiful, lush, tropical island with towering mountains as its backdrop,” said Brinegar. “Despite all the hardships its people have faced, there is still a sense of perseverance and enjoyment for life.”

posted November 10, 2011