Chocos, Peru – October 5, 2011 - Children in the Peruvian village of Chocos, perched at 7,000 feet above sea level, will soon be studying in a newly retrofitted school that is no longer a collapse hazard during earthquakes, thanks to a GeoHazards International (GHI) program funded in part by the Thornton Tomasetti Foundation.
This summer, the village’s three-room elementary school was rebuilt with a more robust foundation. Its adobe brick walls were bound together by high-strength plastic netting called geomesh, and a reinforced concrete beam was placed atop the walls. These important additions will keep the school and the children inside safer during future earthquakes.
The Thornton Tomasetti Foundation has committed $15,000 in support of the project.
GHI has been planning this work alongside its project partners - the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, Stanford University and the Lima-based nonprofit Estrategia.
The project is about much more than the retrofit of one school building high in the Peruvian Andes. The hope is that this project will create demand for future earthquake-resistant construction throughout Chocos and nearby communities.
To accomplish this long-term goal, GHI and its partners devised a number of strategies. The project team trained community members in earthquake risk and steps individuals can take to make themselves safer. Local builders were trained in earthquake-resistant construction, including the application of geomesh, a technique that was developed over many years at the Catholic University of Peru.
These earthquake-resistant building practices are locally appropriate, easily replicable and cost-effective.
The project was made possible by the generosity of the Swiss Reinsurance Company, Thornton Tomasetti Foundation and GHI’s Ohya Memorial Fund, which was created in memory of Mr. Satoru Ohya, a generous donor to GHI and a founding member of GHI’s Board of Trustees.
“The Thornton Tomasetti Foundation was created to support humanitarian efforts such as GHI’s earthquake resistant construction program in Peru, offering impoverished residents the skills to use affordable and readily available materials to make a real difference in the safety and durability of future building projects in this earthquake prone region.”
Richard Tomasetti, chairman, Thornton Tomasetti Foundation
The Thornton Tomasetti Foundation, a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization established in February 2008, has two primary missions including funding fellowships, scholarships and internships for undergraduate students, and those planning to pursue graduate studies in building engineering, design or technology and providing financial support for individuals and organizations pursuing philanthropic activities related to building engineering, design or technology. Key elements of the program are college scholarships, traveling internships, and grants to, and partnerships with nonprofit organizations.