Save the Children Races to Children & Families

 
$181,419
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Sep 1, 2010

Taking Education Forward in Haiti

"Ecole Eddy Pascal Takes Education Forward"

Ecole Eddy Pascal was a cornerstone of the local community in Carrefour, Haiti, for over 25 years. Housed in an imposing three-story building, Ecole Eddy Pascal offered elementary and secondary school, classes for adults and a cultural club for the community. But the facility collapsed on January 12, and the school director, Eddy Pascal himself, began searching for a way to start over.

"The first thing we did was ask parents what they had and what they could contribute," he said. "But then Save the Children arrived and gave us exactly what we needed."

Soon there were tents for classrooms, blackboards, equipment and supplies. Children received school kits including a backpack, notebooks and writing utensils. Save the Children has also been training the teachers on how to help children cope with the emotional stress children have suffered from the earthquake. In addition, teachers are coached on how to handle aftershocks that might occur during school hours, making them better prepared to respond in an emergency situation.

"I'm very happy for the opportunity to participate in the trainings," says teacher Jean-Joab. "Psychologically we are much more prepared now."

Jean-Joab hopes the children will be able to move forward despite the suffering they have experienced and the challenges they continue to face. He continues, "I want the children to be able to live their lives with the tools they gain here so that education is practical for their lives. I am much more patient now. We have just come out of a nightmare."

"Making a Home for the School: Cash-for-Work and Education Working Together"

When the January 12 earthquake completely destroyed the Ecole Mixte Etzer Vilaire des Orangers in Jacmel, Haiti, School Director Joseph Constant was devastated. The remnants of the foundation are the only evidence the school ever even existed. Fortunately school had ended by the time the earthquake hit, and no one was hurt. "I thought there was no way school could continue," Mr. Constant explains, "but I knew we had to find a way to prevent the children from slipping in their studies. So now we have a friendship with Save the Children."

In addition to clearing an area for a temporary school through a cash-for-work program, Save the Children provided tents, benches, blackboards, and a school kit for children including a backpack, writing utensils and a workbook. Local community members who were engaged in the cash-for-work program also set up the tents and cleared the rubble from the former school location. They are now working to prepare the new school site.

Participants in the cash-for-work program are local community members who were affected by the earthquake, some of whom had lost their home or their livelihood in the disaster. The program also specifically supports people with three or more children and women who are heads of household.

The students are thrilled to be back in classes. "School is important because we need to learn," exclaims the first grade class almost in unison. "It's important to know how to write so that we can spell our names," adds 7-year-old Woudline. Each student in the first grade class has a goal: they want to "work the land" or "build houses" or "be a nurse."

Twelve-year-old Monise states in a serious tone, "After school I'm going to work so that I can help my mother." The school had 127 students prior to the earthquake. To date, 92 students have returned. Many others have left the area as families migrated to other regions or children who had been in the care of a relative returned to parents' homes. Mr. Constant is hopeful that school attendance will continue to grow as they move into their new, permanent location. "Education is the key to freedom," Mr. Constant declares. "Both the school and Save the Children know it is our duty to educate children. To work in education is a matter of the heart."

Save the Children has been working in Haiti since 1978 and had numerous education projects in place prior to the earthquake. Since January 12, education programming has expanded to include over 270 schools that are now benefitting from tents, tarpaulins, equipment, supplies, school kits and/or teacher training. Save the Children plans to provide access to school for more than 160,000 children in Haiti.

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Megan McLain

Manager, Corporate Partnerships
Westport, CT United States

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