The main priority, Azua said, is to assure donors that buildings are hurricane and earthquake-resistant, which doesn’t come inexpensively. For example, the construction of 12 classrooms in one community has cost the church $800,000. And that is without bathrooms and other amenities.
Azua also attributed the slow pace of reconstruction to the phases of recovery after such widespread devastation.
“We also have to think not even Japan can reconstruct that fast,’’ he said. “It’s so hard to have reconstruction after an earthquake. It’s easier to reconstruct after a tsunami because the tidal waves clear everything.”
For example, it costs $300,000 just to remove the debris of the Cathedral. The cost for bringing down the Cathedral bells was more than $30,000 a bell, carried out by the engineering unit of the U.N. peacekeeping mission.
Until now, the bishops of Haiti have focused on rebuilding churches in the outskirts of Port-au-Prince in places like Leogane and Jacmel. Another priority is rebuilding the national seminary, which is in the second phase of engineering and has been hampered by disputed land claims.
“All of these things, you don’t see. All of these things are invisible,” Azua said. “There are so many things in Haiti that you don’t see that make things difficult.”
Still, the first stage in moving ahead with the construction of a new Cathedral will be choosing the best design. But he said it should reflect the church’s history in Haiti.
“There is nothing wrong with a Gothic Cathedral,” he said, laughing. “But it’s certainly not Haitian.”