Above: demolition work on Haiti’s national palace (Photo: J/P Haitian Relief Organization)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Haiti’s damaged national palace was one of the lasting images of the country’s 2010 earthquake.
But while Haiti has already begun the demolition process on the palace, its dome will live on in a bid to help rebuild the area of Cite Soleil in Port-au-Prince.
Between 150 and 200 cubic metres of rubble from the dome of the National Palace to be transported to the area of Cite Soleil, according to Sean Penn’s J/P HRO charity, which is working with the government on the project under the technical supervision of the Institute for the Preservation of the National Heritage.
That rubble will be used to create the foundation for future improved and future roads, homes and schools.
“In life, every new day is built on yesterday,” said Father Rick Frechette, who has been working on relief efforts in Haiti and is based in Cite Soleil. “This rubble of a century’s worth of national history and heritage will become the foundation for houses, schools and cultural theatre of the people of Cite Soleil. It’s a great moment — standing on yesterday’s highest domes in order to reach for the best tomorrow.”
J/P, which has demolished more than 1,400 damaged houses and removed more than 300,000 cubic metres of rubble in Haiti since 2010, said its fundraising efforts will mean that Haiti’s government will incur a “minimum cost” on the project. Approximately 98 percent of the staff on the demolition project is Haitian, J/P said.
“This is yet another step forward for the government of Haiti made possible by its people,” said Penn, who was named Haiti’s Ambassador-at-large by President Michel Martelly at the beginning of 2012. “All of us at J/P HRO are honoured ot be of service in this mission, both in its practical and symbolic nature.”
In a statement, Haiti President Michel Martelly said the work would “lay the symbolic groundwork for a new beginning for Cite Soleil.”
Haiti officially launched the demolition process on the palace in late August. Work began Sept. 6. The debris removal project will take approximately three months, according to J/P.
“With this mission, a symbol of power will now serve as the foundation for these extraordinary people to rebuild upon,” Penn said.