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
During the first 2 weeks after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, saving lives and emergency help had absolute priority. Now funds for rescue and basic needs like water, food, shelter and medical care have been collected and help is – hopefully – starting to reach the deprived people. Starting from scratch to rebuild Haiti is now the concern not only of Haitians, but also of the woken-up global community.
This provides hope for the country and especially for its children.
For a sustainable development in Haiti, giving children a chance to learn through good quality early care and education is also a basic need, a basic human right. We are engaged in early childhood development in Haiti since the creation of our Peter-Hesse-Foundation in 1983 through the training of over 800 Montessori pre-school teachers and helping to open over 50 Montessori pre-schools for deprived children – together with local initiatives – all over Haiti.
The earthquake has completely destroyed our teacher-training center in Port-au-Prince and most of our project pre-schools in the capital area as well as in Leogane. Our trainers and many of the teachers have, however, survived. We thank God for this miracle! There is still no information on the teachers and children in some of our projects in other affected areas.
We have, however, already started to assemble those teachers and our trainers in one of our larger country schools (in Liancourt) to start preparing the teachers who have lost their schools for a new beginning where it will be most urgently needed – like in some of the tent-cities around Port-au-Prince. New school-projects will start as soon as we get a clear picture on the situation.
Our Montessori directress Carol Guy-James Barratt from Trinidad is waiting to get permission to fly from Trinidad to Haiti. Up to now, rescue workers as well as medical- and security-personnel and media have priority.
A TV-team around one of our foundation’s board members and I already have tickets to fly to Haiti from Germany on 20 February 2010. The trip and a TV-film on the possibilities of a new beginning is fully sponsored by the team itself.
We have a clear vision of the future of our Haiti-work for deprived children:
1. To expand our Montessori pre-school network in Haiti according to parents’ demands.
2. To start training Montessori primary teachers and expand into the primary sector, since there is already a great parental demand for this extension. We simply need more money to move from this vision to action.
Preferably this extension should be in harmony with a new child-centered educational concept of Haiti’s future government. Montessori should influence the national educational system. This would be a model for the whole developing world. The entire formal system having collapsed with the earthquake, there is a unique chance now to leap ahead in educational quality for the good of Haiti’s children and the sustainable development of Haiti.
We can only pursue this wider vision with more financial help. Our foundation is simply too small to handle this task alone. We are now looking for a solution to collect funds from outside Germany for this new beginning in Haiti which allows tax-deductible donations.
I am deeply grateful for the moral support of our Haiti-work from the USA and Great Britain.
Peter Hesse – www.solidarity.org – 27 January 2010
In Haiti’s struggle to return to some normality and to heal the wounds caused by the earthquake, school is now considered a high priority. Children living in the streets and in provisional tent-settlements are traumatized and lost in this unprotected environment. Schools could give them at least some feeling of being cared for – say Haitian education officials.
Early care and education, as provided for deprived children through Montessori pre-schools, initiated by Haitian civil society groups with the support of the Peter-Hesse-Foundation had created islands of hope in Haiti.
In the areas affected by the earthquake, schools are destroyed. Surviving teachers from destroyed schools are now staying with the foundation’s Montessori teacher-trainers in Liancourt near St. Marc, outside of Port-au-Prince, in one larger Montessori country pre-school.
For new Montessori pre-schools, especially for earthquake victims among Haiti’s children, more teachers are needed. Therefore former Montessori teacher-students with only an “assistant”-diploma will be called to join the Liancourt provisional centre to be trained in a concentrated course, led by the foundation’s Montessori directress Carol Guy-James Barratt from Trinidad.
The next step will be to fund new beginnings. In view of the huge needs in this unfortunate country, funding will create new challenges. Montessorians and other friends in the world are most welcome to be part of this challenge.
Peter-Hesse-Foundation – SOLIDARITY IN PARTNERSHIP for ONE world in diversity.
Are the Montessori-projects of the Peter-Hesse-Foundation for deprived
kids in Haiti worth supporting?
AMI-president André Roberfroid wrote in the preface of Peter Hesse’s
book “VISION WORKS. From vision to reality. From Haiti to ONE world in
diversity.” (ISBN 978-3-9811650-2-9):
“In the slums of Haiti, at the end of the 20th century, Peter Hesse came
to a conclusion exactly similar to that of Maria Montessori in the poor
suburbs of Rome at the beginning of the century. As the President of the
Association Montessori Internationale, I can only express my immense
gratitude to Peter Hesse and to all his friends in Haiti, for giving us
this marvelous example. As Maria Montessori said many times, ‘the child
is the agent of change’. This book is a testimony to her vision.”
First photo – below – from former Montessori teacher training centre in Port-au-Prince, destroyed in the earthquake and photo of trainers and teachers in front of the centre in 2004.
In the afternoon of 12 January, the centre was closed because Naomi, our head-trainer went to the burial of the first child from her own Montessori pre-school. Otherwise, many students of the afternoon training course would most likely have died in the sudden earthquake.
If we can get to Haiti as planned on Saturday, 20 February, we will have to first reorganize the teacher-training in the countryside away from Port-au-Prince to soon be able again to offer Montessori pre-schools to the traumatized and deprived children.
– Peter Hesse – 16 February 2010
It is incredible to imagine that in a few minutes you can become jobless and homeless. That you can loose friends and family members, that your life as you know it can change completely. In a few minutes all can be taken away. On Tuesday 12th January at 16:53 local time this was the fate of over one million people in Haiti.
Many of our Haitian teachers are in this position. They had to walk away from their destroyed houses with only the clothes that they were wearing. The fate is the same for many children attending our schools as well as their parents. They along with thousands of people are still sleeping in the streets, on pavements, in their cars, or in makeshift tent-shanties because their houses have been destroyed.
Besides the enormous stress of trying to survive in makeshift conditions with no water and sanitation, people also have to deal with the aftershocks and the fear they bring with them. Since the big earthquake 52 aftershocks measuring 4.5 or greater have been recorded, and many smaller quakes are still occurring.
Our Peter-Hesse-Foundation team of 5 people visited Haiti from 20 to 27 February. We experienced 4 aftershocks while we were there and cannot imagine how people are living through this!
We saw for ourselves the magnitude of the disaster. Rubble everywhere where houses used to stand. We lost four schools and our teaching training center to the earthquake. 75 percent of schools in the capital are now destroyed, hundreds of teachers still remain unaccounted for, and thousands of children are on the streets.
People who have relatives or friends outside of the destroyed areas are now depending on them for accommodation. 19 of our teachers and their families who lost their homes are now staying at our school in Liancourt in the countryside outside of Port-au-Prince. The Peter-Hesse-Foundation team spent two days there talking with them to decide what is the best way to help them get their lives back.
The immediate need for food is solved through a donation of the German NGO “Welthungerhilfe” (Agro Action Allemande), who cooperates with us in solidarity by giving staple foodstuff such as rice, beans, oil, canned fish etc. Temporary shelter was provided by us through a big tent from Germany and by our local Haitian partners. We brought cash that will cover a five month period. The next step is to solve the problem of joblessness and homelessness.
Our plan is to reopen schools, relaunch the teacher training program and find permanent housing for the teachers who have lost their homes. This will be done gradually. The first step will be the construction of a teacher training center with attached dormitories which will house 40 persons in the Liancourt countryside. The next step will be to construct schools with attached living quarters for teachers who are affected by the earthquake. This will give teachers back their homes and their jobs and give children a nurturing place where they can begin to deal with the trauma they have suffered.
Our vision is to extend the Montessori pre-school service to hot spots in parts of Haiti where over a million refugees from Port-au-Prince have found improvised shelters and where children most urgently need help – and an environment to heal and learn.
Carol Guy-James Barratt, the Foundation’s Montessori project-coordinator, will be in our Montessori teacher training center in Côte d’Ivoire from March 20 until the end of the March. She will be accompanied by Willande Dorlus-Antoine, one of our Haitian teachers. Willande will spend the next three months in the Ivory Coast, training the African students who are working towards their Montessori diplomas.
Before the earthquake Willande worked in the Montessori school in Kenskoff, Haiti. She also assisted in the teacher training center in the destroyed house in Rue Clermont, and attended Quisqueya University, pursuing a bachelor-degree in education – a study paid for by the Foundation. She has one year in which to complete her degree, after which time she would teach Montessori education courses at the University – as it was planned before the earthquake. These courses will be offered as a major in the education degree program at the University thus fulfilling the Foundation’s long-term strategy to reinforce Montessori teaching in Haiti – if the University will be repaired and reopened in a not too far future.
In Haiti children and students still hesitate to attend schools and universities – even in undestroyed houses – due to frequent tremors. To continue training Montessori preschool teachers in Haiti as soon as possible, we are working on the urgent need to provide a home for Montessori teacher students in Liancourt in the countryside and to replace damaged project preschools and teachers’ homes in the earthquake-area.
I can now gladly call potential supporters in Europe in the USA by phone, if I receive your numbers. – Peter Hesse
Problems in Haiti did not interfere with finalizing the first Montessori teacher-training in Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa in June 2010. The graduation ceremony took place on the 25th of June 2010 with great fanfare.
These teachers are the first to graduate from the „Centre Montessori d’Abengourou” in an initiative started by the Peter-Hesse-Foundation in 2008. The „Centre Montessori d’Abengourou” operates a model preschool where student-teachers can gain practical experience with children.
This preschool is also the first Montessori preschool in Ivory Coast. Next year the Foundation will open two preschools and will continue to open more schools as other teachers graduate the program – funds permitting. We use the photos of these two Montessori children for the first section pages in our renewed homepage. They may well have been from one of our Haiti project-schools.
These are the first drawings of our envisaged new Montessori teacher training center in Liancourt, near St. Marc, Haiti – near our two existing Liancourt project schools, to assure the most important practical training possibilities. The simple, but efficient boarding-school will need a cement surface space of about 20 x 16 meter. Toilets and washrooms will be separate from this building. Not all planned detailes are visible in these drawings. Since prices will have to be negociated with the suitable building company, based in the Dominican Republic, we do not yet know, whether we will be able to fully finannce this most important structure for the 40 student teachers and to what extend we can go ahead to materialize the next priorities: new or repaired houses for the the 4 destroyed project schools, 2 each in Port-au Prince and in Leogane. We will keep you informed.
Peter Hesse – 18 April 2010
… the first devastating earthquake in Haiti we continue working on an improved permanent solution to restart Montessori teacher training.
Green building for a new teacher training center in Haiti.
The earthquake in January 2010 destroyed four of our Montessori schools and our Montessori teacher training center. Since then, our children have been attending school in tents and shelters made from plastic sheeting and scrap materials. Unfortunately, our teachers could not continue their training since we do not have a suitable place for them to do so.
We are now working to relaunch the Foundation’s teacher training program, but we need help to do so. We want to build earthquake resistant and energy-saving buildings which are ecologically friendly. We will use simple methods to conserve water and minimize the center’s ecological footprint in the community. We hope to begin the water and sewage component for the new teacher training center by the end of July 2010.
The new center will train teachers to provide a safe environment where children can recover from their psychological trauma and help them develop skills for lifelong learning. This center will also expose teachers to practical environmentally friendly changes that they can pass on to their communities and to the next generation.
Our vision is to build permanent structures for the preschools that were destroyed and to extend the Montessori pre-school service to parts of Haiti where over a million refugees from Port-au-Prince have found improvised shelters and where children most urgently need help – and an environment to heal and learn.
Carol Guy-James Barratt – early in July 2010
a Peter-Hesse-Foundation team and a TV-film crew travelled to Haiti to document what was destroyed, to support our local partners, 20 Montessori teachers, who were directly affected by the earthquake and to plan the reconstruction of the 4 project preschools as well as the new beginning of the teacher training in a safer place. This trip and the resulting documentary were fully donated by the family of our board-member Dr. med. Sabine Uhlen.
In makeshift classrooms made from plywood and plastic sheeting our teachers were able to finish the school year at the end of July 2010 in all project preschools destroyed by the January earthquake – here photos from Jacmel and Léogane, taken by Carol Guy-James Barratt during her recent trip to Haiti:
We continue working on an improved permanent solution to restart Montessori teacher training. We have identified land in Liancourt (below), where the new center will be built. Progress is slow due to bureaucratic and construction constraints in Haiti.
The center will house 40 student teachers from different parts of Haiti and will help to solve the problem of decentralization that will in turn benefit children in different parts of the country when the trained teachers return to their villages and towns. The training center will also enroll students from the surrounding areas who will not live in the center’s dormitories. After their studies, successful students with limited economic resources will be financially supported by the Peter-Hesse-Foundation to open their own schools.
In Jacmel our “mobile” teacher training continues – in a tent, to allow student teachers there to catch up with the course work that they missed after the earthquake.
Unfortunately the 41 student teachers enrolled at the main center that was destroyed in Port-au-Prince do not have that opportunity at this time. Preparations for the permanent solution in Liancourt are under way since our team-visit in February 2010.
The Peter-Hesse-Foundation values teacher training as an important component that will determine the success of Haiti’s future generation. Considering that 57 % of teachers in Haiti have less than high-school-level education, and only 0.9% have any kind of teaching diploma, shows the gravity of the situation.
Peter Hesse, 10 August 2010
Carol reports from Haiti:
In preparation for the start of the new school year the Peter Hesse Foundation replaced most of the Montessori materials and furniture for the preschools that were damaged in the earthquake. Some of the schools are now partially rebuilt allowing the children to attend school. We hope to help the teachers to complete their buildings as funds become available.
Carol giving Montessori materials to Tammar for her school in Leogane.
Despite the nerve-wracking 4.4 tremor that shook Jacmel last week, the 20 student-teachers who followed the Montessori course there, graduated in a touching ceremony with singing and prayers and thanking God for sparing their lives. (For me this was a personal lesson in optimism and resilience). Because of the destruction of the teacher training center in Port au Prince, teacher training still remains a challenge. We are currently trying to find a solution for continuing to train teachers so that they can in turn provide quality education to Haiti’s future generation.
30. September 2010
16 of 20 graduates and the teacher-trainer Hélìana Charles at graduation ceremony in Jacmel on 26 September 2010
Carol reports from Haïti – 30 September 2010:
Our teachers in the Artibonite area held special sessions to teach the children and their parents how to protect themselves and prevent the spread of Cholera in their community. This included simple measures such as the proper way to wash hands and disinfect water with chlorine bleach. The Government initially did not recognize what was causing the outbreak of illness in the area, but later identified it as cholera. As a precaution we closed schools for a few days to keep children from potentially spreading the disease among themselves. We then disinfected the schools, reopened and started prevention education to children and their families. We are contuning to educate parents and children at schools in other parts of the country on the ways that they can help to prevent the spread of Cholera.
The revised architectural concept fort the new teacher-training center in Liancourt, Haiti.
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