The sounds of school bells ringing and children chatting away as they hurry off to class soon will be returning to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. It’s been 17 months since a massive 7.0 magnitude quake tore apart the earth there, destroying everything and everyone near its epicenter, including 80 percent of the schools.
In May, the ground shook again, but this time it was from the use of heavy machinery clearing sites for schools. Food For The Poor is building the Jean Marie Guilloux primary and secondary school, the first of four schools slated to go up in and around Haiti’s capital.
The two-level building will have a total of 16 rooms including, six classrooms, an administrative office, and a canteen on the first level. Six more classrooms, a library with a computer lab, plus a music room will make up the second level. Each classroom will accommodate 40 students and a teacher. All of the new schools will have a walkway with a canopy and stairway, along with a water well and septic system.
There will also be a grassy courtyard to provide students with a secure place to relax or play in between classes. Each school is being built with pre-fabricated earthquake resistant materials. The schools are also designed to resist a Category 5 Hurricane, which is a storm with wind speeds above of 155 mph. More than 3,400 students will benefit from the construction of the four new schools.
“This is a blessing for Haiti, especially in Port-au-Prince because we lost so many students that day, along with their many dreams,” said Lesly Clervil, Food For The Poor’s Haiti Project Manager. “The rebuilding of these schools will bring back hope and pride to the children.”
Shortly after the devastation, many devoted teachers and countless volunteers, determined to help students return to a sense of normalcy, made makeshift classrooms from tents and scraps of fabric. These classroom settings often were under trees, or in open fields away from the potential danger of falling debris. Desks and chairs were put together from whatever salvageable materials they could find.
“After seeing this, we knew we had to help,” said Robin Mahfood, President/CEO of Food For The Poor. “Getting the children back into safe buildings, with the proper desks and adequate supplies, became one of our top priorities. I am proud to say that goal is being fulfilled. We must provide Haiti’s children with the educational tools needed to prepare them for future success – self-sustaining success – to one day rebuild a beautiful and better Haiti.”
According to the charity’s project manager, each school will take approximately two months to construct. Now that the debris has been cleared from the site, and the concrete foundation has been poured, completion of the first school is expected by the end of July.
“Words cannot express the excitement we feel for the thousands of school-aged children in Port-au-Prince who will now be able to take advantage of a good education and the immense gratitude for all whose generosity and hard work are making this dream a reality,” said Mahfood.
Last November, Food For The Poor celebrated the opening of a school in Petit Goave, the first school the charity opened after the earthquake.
The new schools are:
• Jean Marie Guilloux, 12 Classrooms
• St. Francois D’Assise, 12 Classrooms
• Marie Clarac, 16 Classrooms
• George Marc, 21 Classrooms
Food For The Poor, the third-largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian agency provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor. For more information, please visit www.foodforthepoor.org.
Food For The Poor
954-427-2222 x 6079