Mobile Schools Continue in Nazon, Fontamara and Tapage
One month after the quake, the Aristide Foundation opened mobile schools in five refugee camps across Port-au-Prince. Throughout the spring these schools held open-air classrooms led by young high school and college graduates, offering a refuge for children who survived the quake. The schools gave the kids a safe place to go each day to relax, learn and spend time with supportive adults in the midst of the utter calamity they were living though. The mobiles schools served 1,200 children five days a week and employed 100 young Haitians during the first few critical months after the quake.
By summer as schools across the city began to slowly reopen, we ended the full time mobile school program. We had never intended the project to be permanent, and we did not have the funds to keep the schools open indefinitely.
However, in Nazon (central Port-au-Prince), Fontamara (Carrefour) and Tapage (La Plaine) the monitors along with the parents and members of these communities decided these schools were so important, and the collaboration was so successful, that they determined one way or another to keep the schools going on their own.
Each schools took a slightly different path. In Fontamara, the director Rithie Mettelus kept aschool for 180 kids going in the donated yard of a house that was destroyed. Four of the original monitors stayed on to work with him. Carrefour was the hardest hit neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, nearly every building was damaged. This school is a vital the presence for children whose parents have lost everything.
In Nazon in central Port-au-Prince, director Zamor Duboirand, along with five of the original monitors kept the school going in the yard of his own house. This school now has eighty students, and seven teachers. And in Tapage, Mirlande Jeudi runs the school for about 100 kids in the yard of her home.
These schools function on a shoe string, funded by small fees paid by the parents, and the great generosity of the teachers who sometimes go without salaries. Each school is smaller than the original mobile schools – fortunately some children were able to return to the schools they attended before the quake. But many were not, because the schools are gone, or their parents don’t have the money to send them. These schools are meeting a vital need right now. Giving children who nine months after the quake are still living under tents, organized activities each day, some very basic schooling and a sense of dignity.
School Supply Distribution in November
In November, thanks to a grant from the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund we were able to assist all three schools in purchasing and distributing school supplies and offering the kids a day of celebratory activity. (Dance, Music, Poetry, and Food!) Photos from those events are posted here.
Over the next few months we hope to keep supporting these schools and the teachers. We’d love to find sister schools outside Haiti who might want to build a direct relationship with one of these schools. If you are an educator and are interested in learning more, please contact us.
If you would like to support the work of the Aristide Foundation for Democracy tax-deductible donations can be made here:
Or mail checks to: Aristide Foundation, PO Box 490271, Key Biscayne, Florida 33149
All donations are tax deductible and will be acknowledged.