22 January – First good news from Haïti
Finally some good news! The student teachers and staff of the training center were saved.
We were very worried about the students at the training center in Bois Vernat because the earthquake coincided with the time that they would have been attending classes there. A few days before the earthquake, a little girl, who was the first child to register to attend the Montessori school in Liancourt ten years ago, died.
Naomie, the directrice of the training center cancelled classes on the 12th so that she could attend the funeral. Because classes were cancelled, no one was in the building when it collapsed. Although we morn the death of our first little pupil, we are glad that the lives of all our student teachers and staff of the training center were saved.
News is still coming in slowly, so far we have have heard from the teachers of 5 schools in different areas. The schools in Carrefour, and Jacmel are damaged but are still standing. Mais Gate is partly collapsed. The houses of 4 teachers completely collapsed and they are now temporarily residing at the school in Liancourt, as opposed to staying in the open streets or parks, that have now become tent cities.
We are still anxiously awaiting news about the other schools, especially the ones in the badly affected areas. Hoping that by some miracle that there are no fatalities. Hope is our comfort at the moment. We hope that people would not forget Haiti after the initial relief efforts. In a population where 60 percent of children do not go to school we hope that we have help and support to rebuild schools and provide a quality of education that will allow the next generation to sustain itself.
Haiti needs our solidarity – now more than ever.
We at the Peter Hesse Foundation are holding our breath as we wait for news of teachers and children from all of the schools that we have helped to set-up in Haiti. We are mostly concerned about the schools in Port-au-Prince and Leogane since most of this area is completely devastated. Telephone and e-mail communication is extremely limited as there is no electricity. We are relying on bits of information from the few people we could reach by telephone, Skype and e-mail who are mostly outside the capital.
So far we have been told that the teacher training center in Rue Clermont, Port-au-Prince, has crumbled. The directrice of the school, Naomi Joseph is reported to be alive. We are thankful for this. Buildings can be rebuilt…
The trainer Heliana in Jacmel is also ok, although her house is destroyed. We wait for more information hoping for the lives of our teachers and children in Port-au-Prince and in the other badly affected areas in Haiti. All we are sure of right now is that we cannot let Haiti down. We will continue to help children who need us now more than ever. We will work to rebuild and staff schools and to help families get their lives back together. We are determined to continue with even more dedication to help giving deprived children a starting chance in life.
Right now the first priority is to save lives of the survivors and to provide the basic needs: water, food, basic medical care and shelter. Building up what is destroyed and saving the Montessori system for deprived children in Haiti is already in the planning phase, which will be further developed as soon as we have more information on what happened to our Haitian teachers and trainers.
Before the earthquake, Carol and I had planned to travel to Haiti at the end of February. We were to be accompanied by our foundation’s board-member, Dr. Sabine Uhlen, and a film-team. The purpose was to make a film-document on our successful Montessori work. This documentary and the whole trip were to be sponsored by the team itself. Tickets have been bought. We and the team are now even more committed and are hoping to go to Haiti as planned. Our first priority will now be to give immediate assistance to children and teachers in our schools. We are, however, still intending to also make a documentary which will be a constructive document of hope for the future of children and their educational development in Haiti.
Peter Hesse – www.solidarity.org – 17, chemin Henry Matisse, F-74600 Seynod, France
Peter-Hesse-Foundation SOLIDARITY IN PARTNERSHIP for ONE world in diversity