Towards the end of March 2010, FONDOP began to close down some of its emergency activities, so as to focus on its original aim – to get disadvantaged children into to school.
On 19 March, the Principal of Ecole Marie Reine Immaculée, a school managed by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny, approached FONDOP for assistance. The school had had to abandon their previous premises, because of the damage and urgently needed 14 classrooms for their 625 pupils, many of whom were preparing for important exams. One of the FONDOP members gave them permission to use their family property until the end of the year. FONDOP provided plastic sheeting and wood to put up temporary shelter for 2 classrooms. By the end of the week, Plan Haiti helped put up 10 more. As one pupil reported to Jocelyne Pierre: “I had not seen my friends or my teachers since the earthquake and I was so happy to come back to school and to see that they were alive and well”. On Monday 26 April, the students had a ceremony to thank their supporters and the children offered a card and mango, decorated with flowers, to each of their benefactors.
Also on 19 March, the support groups for the children in Camp Beaudoin had their final session and they held a touching ceremony in which the children said thank you, through singing, dancing, poetry and drama, all of which related to their experiences during and after the January earthquake. The Hygiene and Sanitation Awareness project in the camps also drew to a close as schools and the University were opening again and students were returning to their classes.
The Children’s After-School Club in Auban, supporting around 130 disadvantaged students continues to receive support from FONDOP, in collaboration with Save the Children, providing an after-school club for children, equipped with latrines, a water container, a shelter made of wood and plastic sheeting. Between 2 and 5pm on weekdays, the children are looked after, with psycho-social and sporting activities. They can also do their homework under the supervision of volunteers, which is a great help, as some of their parents are illiterate.
Back to school activities – FONDOP is now working hard on several fronts in support of students wanting to return to school. Despite the promises of the Government, many schools are still having difficulties opening their doors, as for many, their buildings have been damaged beyond repair. The temporary shelters which FONDOP has helped to provide schools in the area are not ideal, in that it is very hot and trying to study outdoors, during the rainy season can be a challenge. However, the students are grateful that they are being offered an education and their teachers are determined to support them to get back to their studies.
FONDOP has supported Centre d’Etudes Classiques de Meyer (CECM), with plastic sheeting and material. The Principal of that school installed temporary classrooms in the back yard of her own home, to allow the children to get back to their studies. FONDOP has now paid the school fees for 33 children in their primary classes (at around US$150.00 per year) to allow them to return to and stay in school. In addition, they have funded 28 secondary students (fees at around $180.00 per year). Jocelyne Pierre explains: “These students are preparing for their official exam in August and they need to be free from financial concerns to focus on their studies”.
Word has gone out that FONDOP is supporting disadvantaged children in their education. In response to applications, FONDOP has now agreed to support 25 more children, enrolled in different schools, in Jacmel and its surrounding areas. Some of these children have lost one or both parents. The community of Camp Beaudoin has presented a list of 50 children who are facing difficulty in getting back to school. This request is under review and a decision will be taken by the Board of Directors of FONDOP at the beginning of May. They will engage in a needs assessment, with the schools involved, to see how much money the parents owe and what support can be offered.
It is foreseen that most of the children currently being supported in this academic year will need some sort of assistance again in September, at the start of the school year 2010/11. With this in mind, FONDOP is already seeking additional funds to ensure that these children can access education.
Our gratitude and thanks go to all donors who have contributed to FONDOP’s effort to give these children the opportunity to enjoy their right to an education.