300,000 dead. 1.2 million displaced from their homes. Not only did Haiti’s 2010 earthquake cause long term damage and mass internal displacement, it also increased the number of disabled to nearly 10 percent of the population. Prior to the earthquake, the disabled had little choice for employment and were often relegated to begging in the street. Post-earthquake, in a country with over 40 percent unemployment, the disabled seem to have been even further marginalized in Port-au-Prince.
Brett Perl, Carnegie Mellon ’15, an architecture major, set out to understand how the disabled can reengage and started a non-profit called Building with Bottles.
Building with Bottles is one of the most recent winners of the 2013 Resolution Fellowship Grant, bestowed by the Clinton Global Initiative. Bill Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea Clinton, announced that Perl was a recipient of the grant. Perl received a monetary stipend and socially conscious global business mentors who will help him to grow and develop his non-profit.
Empty plastic bottles are discarded everywhere in Port-au-Prince. This overabundance of trash creates an opportunity to repurpose the plastic bottle garbage with a business model that generates ongoing employment for many disabled individuals or caregivers of disabled children, living in settlements for people who are displaced within their country.
The earthquake left millions without basic furniture, and most furniture is unaffordable for the majority of Haitians. Using discarded water bottles, a disabled person can create a modular stool using methods Perl developed. By providing those recently disabled with sustainable income from the sale of plastic bottle stools, they are able to feel successful and can care for their families. Imagine what Perl can do after he graduates.