Haiti report 10 months after the earthquake

The Foundation’s immediate goal after the devastating earthquake in Haiti which killed more than 230,000 and left over a million homeless was to help our teachers and children overcome this unexpected and frightening experience and continue their life with some kind of normality. Our next goal was to restart Montessori teacher training.

Immediately after the earthquake we were faced with the situation of children who were on the streets and teachers who had lost their homes and their jobs. The Foundation’s immediate response was to make arrangements to house 20 teachers and their extended families in one of our partner schools outside the earthquake zone and to give funds to cover a five month period. In addition staple food such as rice, beans, oil, canned fish etc. as well as detergents, soap and blankets were provided by our German partner, Agro Action Allemande (Welthungerhilfe).

Tents and shelters made from plastic sheeting and plywood were constructed in the affected areas as a temporary replacement for the preschools that were lost. In the meantime more permanent structures have been put in place for 3 of the 4 preschools which were destroyed. Most of the didactical materials were replaced, and these schools are now able to function normally. Preventing the Cholera to affect our preschool children and their teachers became an additional challenge, as reported before.

Unfortunately, we still do not have a teacher training center to replace the destroyed center in Port-au-Prince. The student-teachers who were unable to finish the course were given “Attestations” stating that they did attend the teacher training course, but could not finish. Because of the shortage of teachers, many of them were able to find jobs with the “Attestations”. In Jacmel 20 teachers were, however, able to complete their training in a tent. In January 2011, a new “mobile” teacher training course will begin in Les Cayes for teachers from that area.

The Foundation continues to work on an improved permanent solution to restart Montessori teacher training. A training center with dormitories to house 40 student teachers from different parts of Haiti will be constructed in Liancourt. Successful students with limited economic resources will be financially supported by the Peter-Hesse-Foundation to open their own schools. This will benefit children in different parts of the country when the trained teachers open schools in their villages and towns. We have identified land in Liancourt where the new center will be built. Progress is slow due to financial constraints, as well as bureaucratic and construction constraints in Haiti. Building this envisaged new center (see drawing below) was and remains, however, the Foundations main goal.

Peter Hesse, 15 November 2010