Update from Louino Robillard: July, 2014 – Work continued throughout the month of June, with more holes being dug and the poles being installed. Throughout the beginning of the month, as school was ending, the community was very happy with the progress being made and saw that the contractors were working hard. When I spoke with community members, they appreciated not only the rehabilitation work but the fact that there were young men in the community who were benefitting from small jobs in digging out the foundation.

With this recent earthquake in Chiang Rai, there is heightened concern regarding the community’s seismic resiliency.  Whether a community leader, building owner or resident of the city of Chiang Rai, all stakeholders have a vested interest in mitigating the seismic risk facing the community, the city and the country.

  Friday, May 2, 2014 It’s 2:30 pm and the hot African sun bears down on us. Our plane is scheduled later today, but for now I face the blowing sea smell of the wind from the Atlantic Ocean. The beach is desolate, but absolutely wild and beautiful. It’s a pure honey brown sand beach in Buchanan in the county of Grand Bassa.  My bare feet are in the sand with my business pants rolled up. I removed my tie hours ago.  These things make sense in northern…

  Monday, April 28, 2014 It’s 9:30 am on a Monday and our second day in Liberia. We are here on a weeklong mission to advise the Government of Liberia on low-income housing construction. Cojolo, our tall guide/guard and the Protocol Officer at the Ministry of Finance, waited for us for more than 30 minutes now in the lobby. I was concerned about his mood. He greeted me with a straight face and pointed at his watch. I swiftly ran into the breakfast room to fetch a cup…

Sunday, April 27, 2014 As I descended the steps of the plane after 27 hours of a hellish ride from California, the African heat and humidity mixed with the smell of burning gas bombarded me.   It was a vivid welcome to Liberia, a country in West Africa that’s home to 4 million people.  The lush green jungle that framed the airport and the insect noises vibrating through the air overwhelmed me.

  When Structural Engineering Students for Humanity (SESH) decided that Haiti was to be the destination of our summer 2014 trip, we were often given a warning: “You will either love Haiti or you will hate it.” I am happy to report that after spending two weeks in a country that I never thought I would visit, I cannot wait to plan my return.