Thursday, June 10, 2010

next step

We're still catching our breath from the huge amazing benefit event we had on Saturday. We will have more photos soon, stay tuned. ...

What is the next step for Domes for Haiti?

I had located a manufacturer to fabricate the dome covers in California. However, I thought I ought to make one more last attempt to find an east coast alternative and I did. Sperry Tents in Rochester, Massachusetts. I called up Matt after following a lead from a facebook photo I saw of a beautiful circus style tent being set up in Haiti. See, some good does come from Facebook.
Under the photo, which I think I saw on Grassroots United fan page, it said "tent donated by Nantucket Tents." So, of course I called up Nantucket Tents. and they sent me to their manufacturer who is also a sail maker.

Matt was immediately receptive to the project and excited to be a part of it. He matched the price of the manufacturer on the west coast, so I said yes. Cutting out all of those extra shipping charges is going to save us a couple grand. I am having one of the frames sent to Matt today via UPS.

The other problem we had to solve was what kind of fabric to use. I settled on a Dacron fabric, polyester and cotton blend that looks and feels like natural canvas but is more waterproof and longer lasting. It's called Starfire. I had been counting on saving some money on the job by using donated fabric, but the donation I had was of PVC Vinyl and I decided to nix the vinyl domes. Not only is the fabric toxic in its production, but also in it's inert state as well as if it catches fire it releases arsenic. Not good.
So I am spending a little money on the fabric to get something really nice and breathable that wont kill any ecosystems or people in the process.

I ordered it yesterday, it will be shipped to Matt today so he can get to work on Monday fabricating the dome covers. He said to give him three weeks from when he starts it, so we are looking at June 28....

He is giving us a great price on the job and I have faith that he will make a beautiful dome cover. The domes are going to be terra cotta and khaki colored. I thought that would blend in better with the landscape.

Check out Matt's two web pages: Sperry Sails Sperry Tents

Although we raised alot of money at the benefit on Saturday, we actually could use more money. I am going to work on the budget in the next few days to see where the hidden costs are that I failed to factor into the original budget. As I find out more details about actual shipping costs and how much to hire a translator, for example, the cost of the entire project is shifted. The budget I had made before was bare bones, just to get the domes made and did not account for airfare, fabric or paying staff. I was planning on going to Haiti alone and hiring locals down there to assist, but I have come to realize that I really need a team of at least two people to come with me. These people need to be friends that I already know and trust who have a very similar outlook as I have. I can't really expect people to pay their own way, so I have to at least offer to cover their airfare and food and lodging in Haiti. I will be adjusting the budget to reflect the entire cost of the second phase of the project.

We have another benefit for Domes for Haiti coming up on the 17th of June. This group Ignyte People is hosting it. Hopefully, with their help, we will complete our entire fundraising effort. I will report back in a couple of days to show how much more we actually need. I will say that when our projected goals are matched, we can always use more funding to support further efforts as well as to support partner organizations such as Grassroots United

I am continuing my search for a free shipping alternative out of Miami in the next few weeks as Matt is fabricating the domes.
I will also be gathering up tools, fabrics and hardware to bring to Haiti with me.
If anyone has any tools they'd like to donate, please contact me at

I will be heading to Haiti a week before the domes are expected to arrive, to scout out possible locations for the domes to be set up. Sam, from Grassroots, will show me a few potential sites and I will make a decision based on my heart as to where they ought to go.

I have refrained from making any solid commitments as to recipients of the domes because to do so through the internet is problematic. First and foremost, I believe that the people I would like to assist probably dont have internet access. Secondly, there is so much desperation and need down there that one could easily fall prey to scams of one sort or another. The best approach and the one I've settled on is to rely on the local contacts of an experienced organization that has been there for a long time and knows whats up.

It is my intention to house kids with these domes. There are a few potential sites that I will be checking out once I arrive in Haiti. I also did not want to make any promises I could not deliver on. Until I am in Port Au Prince, with my domes safely through customs, will I know that I have succeeded in bringing ten domes to Haiti. There are just too many potential pits to fall into to make promises until I've run the gauntlet and won.

I am getting damn close to winning is all I can say at this point!

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this effort along the way, we could not have done it without every single person's contribution!!

1 comment:

  1. Your project and the whole concept are fantastic. One word of caution - if you plan to arrive in Haiti with the Domes, and think Customs will allow duty free entry because you are providing a gift of US generosity, you might want to check with NGOs that tried that path, or you might want to check with the US Embassy in PaP. Custom duties are the only ways the Haitin Gov get revenue - every importer claims their goods are for charity. To Customs people, if you are good enough to ship things to Haiti, you are good enough to pay import duties. Forget about an an Import Duty list of goods with a specifics on tarrifs, or how thy determine the value of the stuff you are bringing in. I have been going to Haiti since the early '70s; and still going. Don't give up or lose the faith or energy; spend some time researching the best way to connect with the right people so you don't arrive in country and have the domes held by custom until you pay the stiff import duty. Caveat Emptor.
    Kind regards and congratulations for mobilizing so many ideas with so much energy. C. Juliard