DEC member Tearfund updates on their work in Haiti to help school children minimise the impact of the 2010 earthquake on their education.
So we built 118 disaster-resistant transitional classrooms at 40 schools, supplied furniture and provided 32,000 school bags for returning children.
Permanent schools were put up too, built to higher standards so they were more able to withstand future earthquakes.
‘We used to have classes in the open air with no shelter from the rain,’ said school teacher Elidonne Augustin at the Ecole Nouvelle Vie de Demier near Citronnier, proudly surveying the new primary school built by Tearfund which has four classrooms, a latrine block and a rainwater collection tank.
There was also help for those families who had lost their livelihoods and were simply unable to pay for their children’s education.
Tearfund partners provided grants for school fees so youngsters could continue to attend classes, lifting the threat of being stuck at home or roaming the streets.
Special help was also targeted at youngsters between the ages of ten and 18 who had missed out on years of schooling. Literacy, numeracy and writing skills were at the core of this three-year accelerated learning project.
Constructing more buildings that are better placed to withstand future earthquakes and increasing the local skills base was the motivation of our partner, the Union of Baptist Churches in Haiti, which started a technical school to train builders of the future.
Student Claude Pierre said, ‘I learnt a lot during the first year and I’m able to do some work on building sites. Through this project I am very optimistic about my future.’
Colleague Peguy Wens Felix said, ‘Perfect is the ideal word to express my feelings towards this institution. I want to be an engineer in building construction and through this project my dream will become a reality.’
The threat of another earthquake or disaster looms large over Haitians but Tearfund is helping them prepare for the worst.
For example, our partner Conseil des Eglise Evangelique d’Haiti goes into schools to instruct teachers and pupils about how to protect themselves if a disaster strikes.
‘Before this training when I heard about hurricanes I didn’t understand the different categories and I worried a lot, said Michelet, a primary teacher. ‘Now my students and I know what protective measures to take when there’s a natural disaster.’
In all 180 Haitian schools have been supported by Tearfund through building and latrine construction, distribution of school supplies and financial support for students.
Some 50,000 children are benefiting from Tearfund-supported projects.
Read more on Tearfund's work in Haiti.