Some good news for a change

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Author: John Nagy ’00M.A.

When he talks about the need for a master plan for Léogâne, William DeJong quotes Proverbs: Where there is no vision, the people perish.

DeJong should know. As an education planner and co-founder of Schools for Children of the World, DeJong includes the facility master plan for the school system of post-Katrina New Orleans among his accomplishments. The project connected him with architect Steven Bingler, whose firm, Concordia LLC, produced the Unified New Orleans Plan, the basis for that city’s official blueprint for the future.

Now DeJong, Bingler and Virginia developer Gilbert Wirth have fixed their minds on Léogâne as coordinators of the planning effort that gained momentum during the Rebuild Léogâne workshop. Their work is only one piece of good news concerning Notre Dame’s involvement in Haiti.

  • Last September, Cargill donated $20,000 worth of salt to the Haiti Program, which will treat it for use as a dietary weapon against lymphatic filariasis.
  • The Let’s Share the Sun Foundation, founded by class of 1985 alumni Nancy and William Jordan to bring solar power to the developing world, made its first-ever donation to the Haiti Program. The first phase of an eight-kilowatt array is beginning to provide a stable power supply to the program’s headquarters, Residence Filariose. The system eventually will replace a diesel generator and eliminate as much as $750 in monthly fuel costs.
  • One of the 11 school projects DeJong’s group has taken on in Haiti has them working with Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) on the reconstruction of the Congregation of Holy Cross’ Basile Moreau School. ACE is also supporting the expansion of a Holy Cross primary school.
  • Meanwhile, ACE staff are working with the Haitian Ministry of Education to develop the curriculum for a national Teacher Institute in the northern city of Cap-Haitien.
  • Haiti Program business manager James Weber ’10MBA has begun teaching basic business classes to local tradesmen and aspiring entrepreneurs. Weber is working with Economic Growth Initiative for Haiti, a nonprofit co-founded by Stephen Keppel ’03, to develop a certification program.
  • In June, Cindy Michel ’04, ’10MADU, a Haitian-American architect, received the Congress for the New Urbanism’s 2011 Academic Award for her graduate thesis, a master plan for Cap-Haitien. Through a program designed to tap the talents of architects, planners and engineers among Haiti’s diaspora, Michel has advised the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission and the U.S. Agency for International Development on projects in Port-au-Prince.

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