The sight of it was one of the more lasting images of the January 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti.
Its tattered national palace was in many ways symbolic of the impoverished country’s plight following the quake that was responsible for the deaths of more than 300,000 people and left roughly a million more homeless.
But the slow rebuilding process continues, and Haiti’s national palace will play a role in it when its dome is used to help rebuild the area of Cite Soleil in Port-au-Prince, the Caribbean Journal reported.
Between 150 and 200 meters of rubble from the palace’s dome will be transported to the area of Cite Soleil, according to actor Sean Penn’s J/P HRO charity that is working with the government on the project. The rubble will be used to create the foundations for future roads, homes and schools.
Father Rick Frechette has been busy working on Haiti’s relief efforts from his base in Cite Soleil, and likes what he’s seeing.
“In life, every new day is built on yesterday,” Frechette told the paper. “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 meters 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 honored to be of service in this mission, both in its practical and symbolic nature.”
Haiti President Michel Martelly issued a statement, saying the work would “lay the symbolic groundwork for a new beginning for Cite Soleil.”
Haiti began the demolition process on the palace in late August. 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.