Designing hope in Haiti

Marcie van Weerdhuizen.Welcome Home Children’s Centre operates out of a rented facility in Haiti. It is at capacity and the lease is soon expiring. Without the help of Civil Engineering student Marcie van Weerdhuizen and Engineering Ministries International, these children would be without a place to go.

The fourth-year student is currently interning with Engineering Ministries International, a non-profit organization that mobilizes design professionals, such as architects and engineers, to use their skills for development projects around the world. As an intern, Marcie is helping to design a new orphanage facility for a ministry in Haiti. She travelled with a team of volunteers and staff to Haiti for just under two weeks to create a preliminary design.

The trip allowed us to get a better understanding of the ministry’s needs, and how we can best design for them given local conditions, techniques, and materials. - Marcie van Weerdhuizen

While Marcie was in Haiti she spent time at the site of the future orphanage, surveying the land, doing soil and water tests, taking pictures, and gathering other site information. She also had the opportunity to spend time with the children at the existing orphanage, playing soccer, eating lunch, and discovering what they'll need in a new facility.

Marcie has been eager to become involved with this opportunity for a while.

I've been looking into this opportunity for a few years now, and I think it started out before I even decided I wanted to be an engineer. I wanted to do something that helps people, and I love buildings. So choosing civil engineering, and now interning here, just makes a lot of sense for me. It’s the perfect combination. –Marcie van Weerdhuizen

Now back from her trip, Marcie is finishing drawings, calculations, and report writing so that fundraising and construction can begin as soon as possible. Marcie’s trip to Haiti really opened her eyes and shifted her perspective.

It's easier to ignore people's needs before you see them. I feel the weight of that a lot more now and it's changed the goals and plans that I have for my future. –Marcie van Weerdhuizen

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