Three Community Grant Recipients Improve Education in Haiti and Help Students Regain a Sense of Normalcy

Grassroots community organizations in Haiti that received funding to help their neighborhoods recover from the January 2010 earthquake are reporting positive results from the grants they received last year. Three such groups focused on education have had a particularly valuable and positive impact on children.

Asanble Vwazen Solino (AVS), a free school in Solino, teaches children academics and trades. Immediately after the earthquake AVS retrieved survivors from under the rubble and provided moral support to the community. The dense populated neighborhood is home to mostly people of low means who are unable to pay to send their children to school, so the free education at AVS is crucial for these students to receive education.

When it was announced that school would resume on April 4, 2010, AVS faced a deadline to restore its own damaged facilities. Neighbors stepped in and helped get tarps to create classroom space so school could start, giving children and their parents a sense of return to normalcy. But in the high temperatures, children were getting sick and unable to attend class, so the tarps had to be quickly replaced. AVS had to find the funds to repair the school fast to move the children from under the sweltering tarps.

The $18,000 community grant from Direct Relief enabled AVS to immediately start repairs and quickly able to get the students back in the classrooms. Besides repairing the school and fence, AVS was able to add a much needed library/computer room, a better kitchen, and bathroom. When the students returned they were not only happy to see the school but were excited about the new additions. Repairing the free school also boosted enrollment from 125 students before the earthquake to 200.

Without the Direct Relief grant, over 80 percent of the parents in Solino would be unable to send their children to school due to the fact their situations worsened after the quake. The repairs were a relief for these parents, whose children are attending school, getting computer training, and even a meal.

Fondation Orchidée was created to help educate and emancipate children of lesser means. Using various methods to keep the students interested, the foundation hosts a book club on Saturdays as well as a summer camp.

It also supported an orphanage in Leogane that was destroyed during the earthquake, and was able to relocate the children in a safe shelter on Tabarre.

After the quake the foundation was facing so many challenges it did not think it would be possible to have camp that summer. With the Direct Relief grant, Fondation Orchidée was able to host the Saturday book club, where over 100 children from Obléon and environs came to read and tell stories, sing, and make crafts. The children enjoyed these clubs since they would be fed and receive dry rations to take home to their families.

With the community grant from Direct Relief, Fondation Orchidée was able to set up additional workshops during the summer under a tarp on the roof of their book club building. The workshops attracted even more students, who learned how to make objects in bamboo such as bracelet and vases, and were taught embroidery, crochet, and sewing to make purses, shirts, and baby bonnets. At the end of camp, the children’s wares are sold in an arts-and-crafts fair, with the proceeds going back to the children.

The Direct Relief grant allowed Fondation Orchidée to offer a much-needed summer session for the children, alleviating some of the stress the children experienced after the earthquake.

Asanble Vwazen Jacke (AVJ) was created to raise awareness on the overall needs of the people in a highly populated neighborhood in Delmas. AVJ founded an alternative school, where they created a system to enable their students to take the state exam in four years instead of the standard eight.  Enrollment for their first school year was nearly 200 students.

Immediately after the January 12 earthquake, AVJ focused on educating residents on earthquake awareness and how to deal with aftershocks.

Direct Relief’s grant to AVJ has helped the people of Jacket recover from the earthquake, and helped them have a better understanding of what to expect during and after an earthquake. Students also got the support they needed to overcome their fear of concrete buildings, return to classrooms, and feel a sense of normalcy. By getting the students comfortably back inside, AVJ was able to start academic and professional training, ranging from computer skills to arts and crafts and basic farming. The students create greeting cards, made with banana bark glued onto a design they draw, that are sold, with the proceeds reinvested in the school.

With the Direct Relief grant, AVJ was also able to lease a parcel of land that supports a small vegetable garden, a chicken coop, and small rabbit farm. The items from the farm fortify the students’ meals.

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