The Montessori partner schools in Senegal functioned normally for the greater part of the school year. Children wore masks and observed protocols for the prevention of Covid. Fortunately, there were no Covid positive cases of either staff or children at the school. Unfortunately, however, the teacher training which was planned when I visited Senegal in 2020 did not take place. Covid changed my plans to physically travel to Senegal. We adapted our training to work online with the teachers to improve their teaching skills via social media, and were able to involve 15 of our teachers with these activities. The effective of the Montessori preschool section of the school in Senegal is 160 children.
The PHF were supposed to start a Montessori preschool and training in Mali since October 2020. Unfortunately, the political coup occurred in August, and I did not go there as planned. In 2021 COVID and security issues, including the kidnapping of foreigners, again prevented my visit.
In the meantime, preparations to open a school in the village of Tidianbougou had been made. The village elders acquired a building and the Montessori teacher from Mali, who trained in our Montessori training in Ivory Coast, started the school in October 2021. She is currently working with two assistants to create the Montessori environment.
She is also using the Montessori language materials to teach the assistants to read and write. The materials are in French, but we are currently working on Montessori reading materials in Bambara.
This year the foundation produced a Montessori teacher training workbook in the Bambara language. This workbook will make the teacher training course more accessible to all, since French is the official language of Mali but, is mastered by less than 10 percent of the general population.
The school in the village of Tidianbougou does not have all the materials yet, but we are working on it. Shipping to Mali is a bit complicated. I am planning a trip to Ivory Coast in March 2022, and will investigate the possibility of accommodating teachers from Mali to attend training there if we are unable to do it in Mali itself.
Ivory Coast functioned for the greater part of the school year with no problems. The three teacher-owned schools are headed by teachers who trained with the PH Foundations training course and started their own schools after graduating. There are three schools with the effective of 150 children in the Montessori program. The schools have also added a primary school so children can continue up to age eleven or twelve.
In Haiti, 2021 was a cumulation of disasters, anti-government demonstrations, gang activity, nationwide fuel shortages, and escalated prices for food and water which affected the opening of schools and daily life in general. From January to March schools opened sporadically depending on if there were demonstrations in the streets or not. Demonstrations usually consists of barricading the streets mostly with burning tyres. Some schools in areas not affected by roadblocks were able to function.
Despite the difficult situation in the country, everyone was hopeful that schools would open for the new academic year in September 2021. The Foundation prepared for the school year by giving books and Montessori materials to its partner schools and, as is the norm, we planned an in-service training for teachers from its partner schools. This year, however, we could only go to schools in Liancourt, Gonaives, and Port-au-Prince since the streets were becoming more and more unsafe due to gang activity and violent demonstrations.
On 14 August 2021, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the southwestern region of Haiti. Thousands of homes, schools and churches were damaged or destroyed, including our partner school in the town of Jonc d’Aquin. The school had just undergone renovations and preparations to start in September 2021. The estimated toll from the 7.2 magnitude earthquake is around 1,941, with more than 9,900 injured and 30,000 people left homeless. Two days after the earthquake, even as the search for survivors continued, the same area was hit by Tropical storm Grace. An unbelievable blow to the already difficult effort of rescuing earthquake victims from beneath the rubble. The floods made the rescue of people who were still buried under the fallen down buildings a major challenge with unfortunate consequences.
Aid to some of the affected areas was/is extremely difficult because of landslides caused by the earthquake and the ambushing of aid convoys by criminal gangs. In areas not affected by the earthquake, gang activities, in particular kidnapping for ransom, are common. In the first half of October alone, a reported 119 kidnappings and countless robberies took place. Police are largely outnumbered and the gangs have the most modern weapons, which they openly parade in the streets.
In October a new crisis in the form of a nationwide fuel shortage began. The G9 gang syndicate launched a blockade preventing fuel from being distributed. This greatly affected all aspects of daily life, including supply chains for most commodities and electricity. Only about 40 percent of the population have consistent access to electricity in normal times, so this has made life much more difficult for millions of Haitians. Most middle income and wealthier people rely on generators and are slightly more in control of their situation. In effect, businesses are either closed, or open for only a few hours on specific days. Some banks, for example, open for two days a week for a few hours.
Schools closed in most areas since there is no transport, and parents are afraid of kidnapping, both for their children and themselves. Just two days after it was hit by the devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake, Tropical storm Grace with 35mph winds bore down on the troubled region.
Prices are exploding. Most people are not earning any money to support themselves and their families. Many people have no water since there is no pipe-borne water, and water trucks are at risk of hijack by gangs. Most trucks cannot afford the black-market fuel. The ones that do have gas and are not stopped by gangs charge more for the water. There is also a food shortage for the same reason – goods cannot be moved without fuel for transport.
Although the situation sounds dire, this will not last forever. Schools will reopen. The Peter-Hesse-Foundation will continue to support schools in Haiti when they reopen. In the meantime, the Foundation is giving food aid to earthquake victims in one of the remote areas where aid has not yet reached people there. About 400,000 people have not yet received aid because they live in remote areas.
The Peter-Hesse-Foundation has over 4,000 preschool children in our partner schools yearly. We certainly intend to continue to offer hope to those children in the most critical age where experiences shape a child!s capacity to learn, to get along with others, and to respond to daily stresses and challenges.
Education can help these children learn skills to secure a more promising future. In the last 35 years, the Foundation has provided better education and hope for a better life to over 600,000 of Haïti!s poorest children. We have assured the quality of education for those children by training teachers to an international standard. Over 2,000 teachers have attended our teacher training courses. This not only helps children, but also provides teachers with sustainable and meaningful jobs.
The school in Jonc constructed a temporary plywood room to hold classes until they get a real building to replace the one which destroyed by the earthquake. The Teacher organized a Christmas party for the children. This shows how people just want to get back to normal life in the face of all the problems.
Peter-Hesse-Foundation-News in November 2021.
Concerning Partner preschool projects. The first school trimester which began in September of this year 2021 is about to come to an end.
Despite COVID, the Montessori preschools in Senegal, Ivory Coast and Mali functioned well during the first school trimester. The foundation is preparing to launch a teacher training program in Mali and is currently working on a teacher training workbook in the Bambara language. This workbook will make the teacher training course more accessible to all, since French is the official language of Mali but is mastered by less than 10 percent of the general population.
In Haiti there are major challenges for schools. In the South of Haiti there was a magnitude 7.2 earthquake followed some days later by a tropical storm just as schools were about to open. Thousands of homes, schools and churches were destroyed, including our partner school in the town of Jonc.
The Peter-Hesse-Foundation is concentrating its efforts on emergency food aid for earthquake victims in one of the remote areas where aid has not yet reached people there. About 400,000 people have not yet received aid because they live in remote areas.
There are other problems nationwide in Haiti which prevent schools from opening. Street demonstrations against the government, gang violence and a fuel shortage make it impossible for children to get to and from school.
Although the situation sounds dire, this will not last forever. Schools will reopen. The Peter-Hesse-Foundation will continue to support schools in Haiti when they reopen. In the meantime, the Foundation is giving food aid to earthquake victims.
Carol is also organizing a fundraiser using the “Gofund me” platform uniquely for rebuilding the school in Jonc. This will give people outside of Germany the a better opportunity to donate.
In the face of challenges we are getting ready for the new school year in Haiti.
In the earthquake affected area of Jonc d’Aquin we are organizing a tent school. The little ones need somewhere to be safe during the day and to find normalcy in the rubble. This is being organized by the head teacher of the destroyed school Marc-Talie, who decided that she is not giving up even if the school building has been destroyed.
In areas unaffected by the earthquake, the Foundation is distributing Montessori materials and books. We are also going to areas to conduct in-service training for teachers from different schools in each area. So far we have completed training in Liancourt, Gonaives, and Port-au-Prince.
Haiti, 14 August 2021
How do we deal with catastrophes, if we cannot take our courage in both hands and move forward? Haiti do we leave your children to suffer?
Haiti was hit with a massive magnitude 7.2 earthquake this morning.
Our partner school in Donc d’Aquin which was due to open in September was destroyed by the earthquake. Search and rescue are underway so the death toll is not known. An estimate of 130,000 people have been affected. I cannot even imagine what it must be like having to relive the trauma of the earthquake that devastated the country in 2010.
I remember the stress of the aftershocks. Sleeping on the floor in the Agro Action office with most of their staff members who had lost their homes. I slept with my passport and other documents in a small bag by my head in case I had to run out of the building. Which was too often. There were aftershocks daily and nightly. When an aftershock occurred we ran out of the building with the rest of the neighbourhood. People were screaming “Please God we are sorry for what we did” “Help us”, “Save us”. When things calmed down we would go back inside and wait for the next one.
Now the whole thing starts again. Shortage of food, water and finding a place to sleep. And the children are living through it again.
Haiti Earthquake on Saturday 14 August 2021
We have a tragedy and we need support. People are desperate. On Saturday 14th, the day of the earthquake 5700 were injured and 1297 found dead. The toll is rising every day as they dig people out from under the rubble. We would like to help relocate families with young children to relatives who are willing to take them in. We need transport costs and food so that they do not arrive empty handed at relatives who are poor themselves.
Here is the bank information to donate for these families in need:
Peter-Hesse-Stiftung Stadtsparkasse Düsseldorf, Berliner Allee 33, 40212 Düsseldorf
Peter-Hesse-Foundation reports on the day after the killing of the President of Haiti
Haiti’s children are once again traumatised as months of escalating political instability and gang violence resulted in the assassination of Haiti’s president on Wednesday 7 July, at 1 am.
Families are once again cowering in their houses, afraid of what would come next. Worried that the armed gangs who have been launching attacks in multiple Port-au-Prince neighbourhoods, killing civilians and burning houses and kidnapping for ransom would take over. Fortunately schools are on summer break and children are at home or in the country side where thousands of people have fled seeking shelter with host families or settled in informal shelters.
But this is not the time to give up.
The Peter Hesse Foundation yearly has over 4000 preschool children under our Montessori umbrella. We certainly intend to continue to offer hope to those children in the most critical age where experiences shape a child’s capacity to learn, to get along with others, and to respond to daily stresses and challenges.
New information – 7 July:
Haiti President Jovenel Moise assassinated
Unidentified heavily armed individuals attacked the private residence of President Moise overnight and shot him dead, interim PM says.
The Peter Hesse Foundation is pleased to announce that the new school in Jonc-Dodin in the South of Haiti is ready to open its doors. This is wonderful news during a very tough time in Haiti. We are focusing on the positive this year, despite the dire problems Haiti is going through. When the country is in crisis, children suffer the most. The Peter Hesse Foundation is continuing its quest to help transform the lives of children in need through education. Without access to education, children living in dangerous conditions are unable to overcome their own situations.
Education can help these children learn skills to secure a more promising future. In the last 35 years, the Foundation has provided better education and hope for a better life to over 600,000 of Haïti’s poorest children. We have assured the quality of education those children recieve by training teachers to an international standard. Over 1,500 teachers have attended our teacher training courses. This not only helps children, but also provides teachers with jobs as well. With your help we would like to continue our work of transforming the lives of children.
The Foundation will help to establish another school in Haiti this coming school years in October 2021. A building in Jonc-Dobin d’Aquin is current being renovated for this new school.
The school will be run by Marc-Talli Charles, who as a child attended the Montessori school run by her mother. Her mother attended the Foundation’s teacher training program and was assisted by the Foundation to open her own school. Marc-Talie is following in her mother’s footsteps.
Preparations are also being made in Mali to create a Montessori school in the village of Tidianbougou. The village elders have acquired a building, and the Montessori teacher from that town who trained in our training in Ivory Coast is currently working with two assistants to create the Montessori environment. Furniture and Montessori materials will be supplied after Carol Guy-James Barratt visits the project later this year.