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A SCHOOL-PROJECT IN HAITI : the “School of Friendship”

“ ECOLE COMMUNAUTAIRE de l’AMITIE “

HAITI is one of the poorest countries in the world, and a country with many children. A large number of these children can find no place in the overcrowded public schools and the fees of private schools are far beyond what many parents can afford.Thanks to a private initiative a Primary School was successfully set up in “La Fossette”, one of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods of Cap Haitien.

BEGINNINGS and RESULTS

The school was founded through the concerted efforts of: a Haitian teacher (Pierre Wallace) as active initiator and on site director, a German artist resident of Cap Haitien (Laetitia Schuett) coordinating plans and helpful contacts, some dedicated friends – and the local community.

The “Ecole de l’Amitie” was built in 1995 with modest funds granted by the German Embassy in Port-au-Prince (wall-construction) and the OIM “ Org-Intl-Migration” (roof and benches). To this was added a lot of community volunteer work.

It opened as a co-educational “community-school” in January 1996 with 800 students and 12 teachers, using the school’s 6 classrooms in two shifts. Two preschool classes were added in 1997, and since then about one thousand children attend the “Ecole de l’Amitie” each year.The number of teachers was raised to 16 and in 2010/11 to 18 teachers.The boys and girls learn to read and write (in Creole and French) and use arithmetic, basic skills that may give them better start-out chances in life.

The results are encouraging : Only few “ drop-outs “ among the students and more than 80 % succeed at the final official “ Certificat “ exams. The “ Ecole de l’Amitie “ functioned undeterred through all social and political upheavals and has become for the whole neighborhood a place of stability and of hope for a better future.

FUNCTIONING

All the running expenses of the school, such as teachers’ salaries, teaching materials, repairs and general maintenance are funded by private donations. Most of these funds are raised in Germany by volunteer Regina Matt. Recent benefit-concerts by Haitian Folk Singer TiCorn are helping us gain new friends. Planning and implementations are still coordinated by Laetitia Schuett.

A yearly contribution of about 10.- USDollars per child, payable by the parents, helps to finance the school-cantina. Since 2002 all students are regularly served one warm meal on every schoolday, thanks to the PAM “World Food Program”.

STEPS ALONG THE WAY

Over the years the infrastructure of the school was gradually expanded and improved, making the most of limited financial means:

* 1996-99 - A large schoolyard was created by covering mud and garbage of the river-bank next to the school with clean landfill.

* 2000 - The schoolyard was surrounded by a wall. To be included into the PAM school food program, a simple kitchen and a small food storage room were added. * The drainage ditch crossing the schoolyard was cemented with CEE funding.

* 2001 - The FAES financed the building of a “cantina” which is also being used for classes, theater+folkdance, meetings with parents and handing out certificates.

* 2002 - A further classroom was added to the main building.

* 2003-2006 – Was a period of difficulty for the school due to the lengthy illness and death in 2004 of director Wallace. It was also a time of much political unrest and uncertainty. Just maintaining the school-routine was already a big achievement. The new school headmaster who replaced Wallace is called Joel Ambroise.

* 2008 - Three additional large multi-purpose rooms were finished by the “Food for the Poor” Organisation. One room is equipped with sewing-machines for apprentices. Another is reserved for preschool classes.

* 2009 - “Food for the Poor” also donated the drilling of a deep water-well in the yard.

* 2010 - A larger food storage room was constructed (funded through benefit-concerts) and a study room added to the director’s office for the teachers.

* 2011 - due to increased staff expenses only some minor interior ameliorations in the classrooms were possible this year.

* 2012 - a donation by the German Embassy (PauP) permitted to finally cover the big drainage canal through the schoolyard and to accomplish a lot of major repair work.

 

WHAT IS NEEDED NOW

The primary concern remains always assuring the regular monthly payment of the teachers’ salaries and basic maintenance expenses.

The next most urgent objectives after this are:

- to provide our students with at least a minimum of text-books and school material

- to continue improving roofs, walls, yard, garden, kitchen, electricity …

- to raise spirits through organizing some enjoyable events at the school along the year: special days of celebration, excursions, marching band, soccer, theater, folkdance and choir performances …

 

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HELP

Please contact coordinator Laetitia Schuett email: schuett3399@yahoo.com She will take care of the follow-up and inform the persons in charge.

In Cap Haitien : the school’s director Joel Ambroise and the members of our informal “support committee” : Chantal Laroche..

In Germany : Regina Matt

In the USA : Legrace Benson

For more information see our contact page

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