Pittsburgh -- Robert Morris University economist Brian O’Roark will leave behind the sloping hills of RMU’s Moon Township campus to pick up a hammer and nails in the Haitian town of Fort-Liberté, where he will help build a water treatment facility that he hopes spurs sustainable development in the earthquake-ravaged nation.
O’Roark, an associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University, traveled Oct. 23 on a mission trip to Haiti with his church, the Chippewa Evangelical Free Church, to build a water treatment facility along with paid Haitian workers. O’Roark and the rest of the group plan to return one week later.
The group is staying with two American families living in Haiti as part of the Fellowship International Mission. The idea behind the trip is to put the Haitian people in control of their own economic destiny. Haitian residents working on the project will learn construction skills that they can apply to other projects.
“When skill sets haven’t been developed, poor countries have been reliant on richer people and countries to just give them money rather than develop these critical skill sets themselves. We want to give them the tools to make decisions,” said O’Roark.
According to Matt McCormick, one of the Americans currently living in Haiti, sustainable development “is accomplished when innovative concepts and resources are properly introduced and integrated, building upon the factors that already contribute positively to the community.”
Said O’Roark, “We want to create an environment in Haiti where we are not just giving out hand outs. We want people to gain not just a meal or a set of hand-me-down clothes; we want to teach them how to grow the food or make the clothes. That is sustainable development in developing countries.”