Interview with Patricia Giraldo: Solidarity In Action

Patricia Giraldo works with SERVE’s partner Acoger y Compartir (AYC) in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. We have asked Patricia some questions about partnership and how this has accelerated the success of the project. Patricia played a leading role throughout this project. You can read the interview below. 

Stephen Stranney (Past SERVE volunteer - acted as consultant engineer throughout this project), Patricia Giraldo (AYC) and Gerry O' Connor (SERVE)

Stephen Stranney (Past SERVE volunteer – acted as consultant engineer throughout this project), Patricia Giraldo (AYC) and Gerry O’ Connor (SERVE)

  1.   What has your role been here in Haiti?

I have been the project manager [for the rebuilding of St. Gerard’s primary school] , with three main functions. First of all, hiring and supervising the engineer in terms of execution: approving changes and deciding all the things that were not in the original project, for example, the new place for toilets, the iron fences, colours, etc. Secondly, I was responsible for accounts. I paid materials and labor force and supervised that all the expenses were ok. Third, I was the link with the donors, sending reports and keeping them informed.

  1. What was it like to work in partnership with SERVE?

Working with SERVE has been a very good experience. We have worked together from the beginning when we were deciding how was the best place and way to build the school. Stephen came twice to help us with the technical decisions. Once the project was clear and we signed the protocol, communication and partnership have always been smooth and easy. SERVE’s visit in March was helpful to identify problems and solve them. Whenever I needed something Gerry and SERVE’s team have always been available and helpful and I really thank you for that.

  1. What was challenging about this project?

Haiti is not an easy country and there have been many challenges. I would say, in first place, it was difficult to find the land and to elaborate the project with an affordable budget.  It has been a challenge to build a school where the first priority were children and their well-being: enough toilets, a big yard, a basket field, proper access..etc. There have also been other issues, as security on the site, difficulties as a woman managing men, as a foreigner managing Haitians.

  1. What were the successes of this project?

I think the final school is the success. I am very happy with the big yard and the basketball field for children to play, the spaciousness in the classrooms with enough light and air, the colours… The school is beautiful and it has everything to become a reference in terms of education. I hope this school will change thousands of children’s lives. That is greatest success.

  1. Do you think the success of this project was strengthened by the partnership between the three organizations?

Of course. This has been a very big project and without this partnership it would have been impossible to carry it out. The implication of the three organizations has been a key, in terms of funds, technical support, and all kind of contributions that have made this possible. It has been beautiful to have a common aim and work together to make it happen.