Crowdfunding with Haiti's Cluny Sisters: 90% funded. 4 days to go!

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 19:33 -- Linda O'Halloran

The Thinking Girls crowdfunding campaign to build a flagship sustainable school in one of Haiti’s biggest slums has almost reached its target! Now it just needs a final burst of donations to get it over the finish line before the campaign closes on Sunday, Dec 22nd at 6.22pm. Help us over the finish line at


Why are we crowdfunding?

We've beeing working with one of Haiti's largest educators of women, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny, since Haiti's devestating 2010 earthquake to find an alternative to the quick-fix aid that was available elsewhere. 


When we began the project, there was hope that the international aid mechanism could facilitate a full recovery and deliver improvements on pre-disaster living standards. There were, after all, billions of dollars promised and hundreds of well-intended organisations there ready to use it.


Yet, it soon became clear that the billions promised weren’t coming quickly, that what was available was destined for emergency aid and transitional shelter, and that it would be near impossible to secure for appropriate permanent reconstruction.


Dismayed by the obstacles to accessing recovery support, what began as a short-term helping hand, became a long-term mission. By May 2010, having failed to secure long-term development planning consultancy for the Sisters, project founder Linda O'Halloran, along with Hayley Gryc from Arup and colleagues from University College London, registered a new NGO to rise to the challenge.


Thinking Development’s main goal was to help the Sisters to re-design and reconstruct their biggest Port-au-Prince primary schools complex sustainably, and to document the case well so that it could be easily shared, replicated and learned from. We wanted to help the Sisters resist the pressure to settle for hand-outs that would lock their communities into poor infrastructure in the long term. 


After years of to-and-fro to Haiti, working with the Port-au-Prince community, the plan is ready, but the funding isn’t. Money for high-density infrastructure in Haiti is hard to come by. It’s expensive to build multi-storey buildings in an unregulated, under-skilled, seismic and hurricane-prone place. Yet, it remains plainly obvious that in a country that lost 4000 schools, with a booming young population and vast slums, higher density schools are the only way to meet the demand. And well-built, safe schools can support communities in many other ways too, offering emergency shelter, running adult training, community meetings and celebrations.


Publicity doesn’t sit easily with the Sisters, but they’re moving with the times, and letting us give crowdfunding a try. Our current online campaign is perhaps the biggest of its kind, and already well underway with close to 90% of the target secured. It runs until 6.22pm on Sunday, Dec 22nd. Please watch it here.