This month, as the snow forces schools to close across the UK, Haitian children celebrate their return to the classroom.
Eleven months ago, it wasn’t snow, but a devastating earthquake that forced every single school in the West Province of Haiti to close. Although schooling officially restarted three months later, education for thousands of children was frozen, as they waited for their damaged schools to be rebuilt.
Earlier this month, three primary schools in Tabbare and Delmas, Port-au-Prince, reopened their doors after Islamic Relief repaired the damaged buildings. It took almost two months to rebuild the schools, which were severely damaged in the earthquake. The 2,740 children who used to attend the three schools had been studying in shifts under plastic sheeting.
UNICEF estimates that 38,000 schoolchildren lost their lives in the earthquake. On 12 January, a tremor measuring 7.0 struck Port-au-Prince at 4.53pm, when afternoon classes were in full swing. School furniture, books and equipment were lost and many families could no longer afford school fees or uniforms.
Far from celebrating their schools’ closure, Haitian children have been desperate to pick up their pens and continue where they left off.
Isadoremom, 10, and her brother Gregory, 14, who live at the Islamic Relief camp in Parc Sainte Claire, Port-au-Prince, were at school when the earthquake struck.
"I thought I was going to die," Isadoremom explains. "I didn't understand what was happening so I just stayed in my seat."
"I tried to run out of the school but I fell over in front of the door," Gregory says. “I like to study and when I grow up I want to become a pastor or a doctor because they are good people.”
An estimated 5,000 schools were damaged or destroyed in the quake. Gregory explained, “We haven’t been back to school since the earthquake and we need you to build us schools so that Haitian children can study."
This month, Islamic Relief will be reconstructing a school that was completely destroyed in the earthquake. The Notre Dame du Rosaire school- which is designed to be earthquake resistant- will take 12 months to complete, and will contain classrooms, a playground, an office area. Islamic Relief will also be furnishing the school.
Islamic Relief is carrying our preventative cholera work in their three camps for displaced people in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince and also provide hygiene promotion sessions to children who go to the three schools which were recently rebuilt by Islamic Relief. The humanitarian organisation has built 270 transitional houses across the capital and 2,720 people have been employed by Islamic Relief’s rubble clearance cash-for-work project.
For more information please contact Ruqaya Izzidien on 07855 499 645 or Ruqaya.email@example.com
Notes to Editors
- Islamic Relief was one of the first humanitarian organisations on the scene in the aftermath of the earthquake, delivering food and aid to thousands of survivors.
- IR set up the first organised camp for displaced people, eleven days after the earthquake, on a football field in Parc Sainte Claire. Islamic Relief also organised another two camps, Accra Nord and Yasin Community Camp; the three camps accommodate 1,100 displaced families in total.
- Islamic Relief is an international humanitarian organisation, founded in 1984, with its headquarters in Birmingham, UK. We work in 26 countries in Africa, Asia, Middle East, and Eastern Europe responding to emergencies and supporting sustainable development with vulnerable communities.