Back to School: Children Attend First Temporary School Set Up By Save the Children Post Earthquake

Sarah_tyler Sarah Tyler, Save the Children, emergency communications manager

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

March 9, 2010




At Cejecodema school, Jimmy, 10, clutches his new notebook and pencils close to his chest. Today is the first day he has returned to school since the earthquake on Jan. 12, 2010 turned his life upside down.

Jimmy1aJimmy is just one of many children in this poor community in Martissant, an area of Port-au-Prince, who have the opportunity to return to classes because of Save the Children.

“I like to study and I want to learn,” he said. (Pictured at right: Jimmy waiting for school to begin. Photo Credit: Rebecca Janes/ Save the Children).

In Martissant, where the earthquake destroyed many homes and buildings, large tents ensure that children can continue their education, play and interact with each other in a safe environment.

“My school fell in the quake but I don’t want to go back to it because I am afraid to have concrete over my head,” said Jimmy. “I like this space because it is outside. I feel safe here.”

Over the coming weeks, Save the Children plans to construct about 300 safe, temporary classrooms to help vulnerable children in earthquake-torn areas. This would include repairing some less damaged structures. Pictured below are some Martissant buildings that were destroyed by the earthquake (Photo Credit: Rebecca Janes / Save the Children).

Tents1This disaster has compounded already daunting educational challenges facing Haiti, where only 51 percent of children attended school before the earthquake and where, on average, children only complete four years of schooling. 

To ensure that children continue to have access to education, Save the Children plans to work with government, private and community schools alike.

At Cejecodema, Jimmy says he will study hard to be a mechanic. 

“I want to learn how to fix things so I can be helpful to my family and the community,” he said.

Help Us Respond to the Haiti Earthquake Emergency. Please Donate Now.

YOU CAN DONATE $10 TO THE HAITI EARTHQUAKE RELIEF FUND BY TEXTING “SAVE” to 20222 (US Only).

Learn more about our emergency response to the earthquake in Haiti.

An Orphaned Boy Finds a New Home at a Haitian Community School

L_65522[1] Laurent Duvillier, Save the Children manager, media and communications

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

March 2, 2010

3-year-old Joseph was buried in debris when his aunt, Immalula Bordeau, age 22, rescued him alive. He lost both parents in the earthquake.

 “Every time Joseph hears a helicopter, he gets scared,” said Immalula. “It reminds him the sound of the earthquake.”

IMG_8620_65641[1] Today, Joseph is learning and playing with other children in a community school supported by Save the Children. He is pictured at right, learning at school on Feb. 17, 2010. (Photo credit: Louise Dyring)

Perched high on the hills above Port-au-Prince, the Bazilo Community School stands amid the devastated neighborhood of Carrefour-Feuille. The Haitian Ministry of Education has yet to assess if the building is safe.

In the meantime, classes continue on this steep slope under the open sky.

Every inch of flat space is used to work on the alphabet, review multiplication tables or practice writing. No walls separate the classes, which serve 120 children between the ages of 3 and 12.

Despite the shortages, the teachers and children look happy to be back on the learning track again.

Parents have brought their children en masse to Bazilo school. And not simply for an education.

IMG_8641_65649[1] Bazilo has become a 24/7 community-based care center, an invaluable resource for kids like Joseph. (Pictured at left, Joseph playing with a friend at Bazilo. Feb 17, 2010. Photo credit: Louise Dyring)

 “As long as he can play with other kids, Joseph is happy. He makes a lot of friends at school,” said Immalula, who has been caring for him. “It is good to start education as early as possible. Other schools are too far or too expensive. We simply cannot afford it.”

Every night, Immalula and Joseph — and about 50 others — cram themselves in a flimsy collective tent that rests on a tiny plateau on the edge of the cliff above the school.

“It is not easy but now we know each other. We have become like a big family,” says Immalula.

Save the Children has distributed educational materials (including pencils, notebooks, stationery supplies and toys) and tarps to the school. Prior to the earthquake, the school was supported by the agency’s “Rewrite the Future” campaign.

Teachers will receive additional training in responding to children’s emotional and social needs and helping mitigate future disaster risks.

Save the Children is also facilitating the Ministry of Education’s efforts to inspect and certify the remaining schools in the affected areas of Port-au-Prince.

Help Us Respond to the Haiti Earthquake Emergency. Please Donate Now.

YOU CAN DONATE $10 TO THE HAITI EARTHQUAKE RELIEF FUND BY TEXTING “SAVE” to 20222 (US Only).

Learn more about our emergency response to the earthquake in Haiti.

A Video of Save the Children’s Mobile Health Team in Haiti

Tanya_weinberg Tanya Weinberg, Save the Children manager, media and communications

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

February 26, 2010

In the video below, you can see what it’s really like on the ground as we videotape the work of a Save the Children mobile health team in Haiti. The team arrives in a crowded camp called Village Gastron Magron in Port-Au-Prince on Feb. 22, 2010.

The video features Dr. Joachim Abdias on-camera who is treating patients and explaining their medical conditions. 


Help Us Respond to the Haiti Earthquake Emergency. Please Donate Now.

YOU CAN DONATE $10 TO THE HAITI EARTHQUAKE RELIEF FUND BY TEXTING “SAVE” to 20222 (US Only).

The Incredible Resilience of Children

Tanya_weinberg Tanya Weinberg, Save the Children manager, media and communications

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

February 24, 2010

Today, as I took a break from a visit to a Save the Children medical clinic in a sprawling tent city that has replaced a posh golf club, a group of smiling, delightful children came to pay me a visit.

Blog photo by Suma Suresh Kids from 8 to 17 wanted to try out their English with me and were patient enough to try and teach me some Creole. Pictured at right, the children help me with my language skills. (Photo credit: Suma Suresh)

They howled with laughter when I made faces of despair at my inability to catch on, but were so polite and considerate as I tried again.

One 17-year-old boy took out the English/Creole picture dictionary he carried in his backpack to teach me more. He would not be going back to school because his school was gone, he told me. “I really want to keep studying,” he said. “But I can’t.”

I think we jointly decided not to dwell on it as smiles started to slip away, because everybody wanted to continue with the fun.

The day before, I was overwhelmed by the joy and laughter and singing of children at one of Save the Children’s Child Friendly Spaces.  This, too, was in the middle of a tent city, where children lived with their surviving relatives but with very few of the comforts of home.

I can’t remember the last time I saw such exuberance. The kids shouted out lyrics in response to one of the community volunteer’s calls as they jumped, jumped, jumped along to the rhythm of the song.

Then it was time for sack races, in which kids shrieked with delight and hoisted the winner to their shoulders like he’d just scored the winning goal at the World Cup.

The Child Friendly Spaces allow kids a chance to be kids again. The kids can have fun, express themselves, and look forward to a nice routine amidst the upheaval of their lives.

It’s incredible how children can bounce back from terrible experiences if they have the right opportunities.

Help Us Respond to the Haiti Earthquake Emergency. Please Donate Now.

YOU CAN DONATE $10 TO THE HAITI EARTHQUAKE RELIEF FUND BY TEXTING “SAVE” to 20222 (US Only).

Bake Sales, Swim-a-thons, Pancake Breakfasts: U.S. Kids Do Their Part to Help Haitian Kids

Anna_eisenberg Anna Eisenberg, Save the Children coordinator, media and communications

Washington, D.C.

February 23, 2010

When I walked into the Huckleberry Cheesecake Daycare and Preschool Center on Friday, January 29, I was greeted by a little boy manning a shiny red cash register.

“How many cookies are you going to buy?” the child asked.

When I asked him why he was selling cookies, he said “Haiti.”

Bake_sale1 According to staff at the preschool, located in downtown Washington, D.C., the children had started talking about the earthquake in Haiti shortly after it happened. 

Though the idea of a natural disaster was difficult for them to grasp, they were upset by the thought of kids without toys. 

So the children, barely two feet tall, decided to host a bake sale. They told me that “the children in Haiti need everything from toys to toilets.”

I photographed 3-year-old Jackson, pictured at right, holding up some of the goodies for sale.

Parents who walked in to collect their children, ages three to five, were met by a giant sign that read:

“BAKE SALE, ALL PROCEEDS GO TO SAVE THE CHILDREN HAITI RELIEF.” 

The sale included bagged goodies, and at $1 a bag, business was good. Pictured below is a very happy, three-year-old, Ellie, holding the cash at the bake sale table.

These preschoolers aren’t the only kids determined to help kids in Haiti.  In fact, students of all ages across the country have created unique fundraisers that have benefited Save the Children’s Haitian relief efforts. 

Bake_sale2In Westport, Connecticut, more than 250 swimmers from Staples high school swim team, the Westport Swim Club and the Water Rat Swim Team swam three miles each to raise funds.

Their “Swim for Haiti” event garnered national media attention and resulted in a $45,000 donation to Save the Children.

Then there was third-grader Emma Tennaro from West Middle Island Elementary School in New York. Emma hosted a pancake breakfast at Ruby Tuesday’s attended by 50 hungry people. 

Save the Children’s Elle Russell, manager of school and community organizations, tells me that children and adults of all ages at schools and community groups have raised about $300,000 for Haiti relief. 

There are so many ways to get involved with Save the Children’s Haiti relief efforts!

Click here to find out how you can help organize your own school or community fundraiser.

Help Us Respond to the Haiti Earthquake Emergency. Please Donate Now.

YOU CAN DONATE $10 TO THE HAITI EARTHQUAKE RELIEF FUND BY TEXTING “SAVE” to 20222 (US Only).

Following a Mobile Health Team in Haiti

TanyaphotoshopIMG_8533Tanya Weinberg, Save the Children manager, media and communications

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

February 22, 2010

For Save the Children's mobile health teams in Haiti, just getting to work is a daily reminder of the huge challenges facing Port-au-Prince.  And arriving at work, well that’s a window to the debilitating impact of life in the crowded camps. 

I’d heard of scabies, but I never really knew what it was or how heartbreaking it could be until I visited the camp at Village Gastron Magron.  I met babies and young children covered with large patches of blisters from the microscopic mite burrowed under their skin.  It was tough to see. Reginal David, just 9 months old, had scratched his arms and legs raw from the intense itching.   

He cried and whimpered through the doctor’s examination, and sadly was too young to understand relief was finally on its way.  I could see the strain her baby’s constant misery was putting on his mother, Bernadette Esterline.  At least, among her many problems, this was one a doctor could help her fix with a prescription and instructions to disinfect washed clothes in the sun.  Bernadette lost her home in the earthquake and doesn’t know where her husband is or if he survived. 

Dr. Joachim Abdias explained that scabies is passed through contact and clothes that are shared.  It flourishes in the camps because people are living so close together and, with water in scarce supply, have limited ability to wash.  

Pictured below is one-year-old Davidson who also is suffering from scabies.

He was brought to the same  clinic in VIllage Gastron Magron by his mother and is one of about 2,000 people being treated there. BoywScabiesHaitiRZDIMG_8817 ( Photo credit: Louise Dyring)

Scabies is one of the most visible, but hardly the most dangerous of the many health problems afflicting families who have already lost their homes, relatives, means of income, and dependable access to food.  

Dr. Abdias told me that malaria cases are already on the rise with early rains, and the coming rainy season threatens to make things much worse.  Diarrhea is even more deadly for young children, and also could flourish in rainy season conditions.  The doctors and nurses are offering support and treatment for diarrhea, as well as other lifesaving measures, like exclusive breastfeeding for infants and hand-washing and use of latrines.  

Sadly, many women here think their breast milk has turned bad since the earthquake.  They have been through so much, but wonderfully, most nursing mothers still have the ability to provide their babies the single best thing for their health. 

Learn more about our emergency response to the earthquake in Haiti.

Help Us Respond to the Haiti Earthquake Emergency. Please Donate Now.

YOU CAN DONATE $10 TO THE HAITI EARTHQUAKE RELIEF FUND BY TEXTING “SAVE” to 20222 (US Only). Standard message rates  apply.  

A Video Visit to the Bazilo School in Haiti

 

TanyaphotoshopIMG_8533 Tanya Weinberg, Save the Children manager, media and communications

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

February 19, 2010

I shot some video at the Bazilo school, which I visited recently with Chloe O'Gara, Save the Children's associate vice president for education.

At the school, the kids have a chance to learn and play, escaping some of the chaos in their lives caused by the earthquake.

Before the earthquake, the school was receiving support as part of a four-year-old Save the Children campaign, called "Rewrite the Future," which provides education to children in conflict-affected areas around the world. Three of the young students are pictured below. (Photo credit: Louise Dyring)  

3BasilodkidsBlogRszdIMG_8627

After the quake, everything has changed. The school principal Marcelin Mireille says that Bazilo has become much more than a school for these children and their families.

Pictured below is Immalula Bourdeau, age 22, and her nephew Joseph, age 3. (Photo credit: Louise Dyring)

MomandPetersonRSZDIMG_8559 Joseph lost both his parents in the earthquake.

Immalula enrolled him at Bazilo so he could have some normal childhood experiences amidst the upheaval in their lives, and the school is now their home, too. 

She says the 50 people who squeeze into the area at nights are “like a family” now. 

What Madame Mireille and her staff at Bazilo have achieved and how important it is for the kids are summed up by Chloe O'Gara in a video shown  below. O'Gara says:

"What I saw here was a group of very resourceful people, deeply in touch with their community, who built on what was already there, which was trust and expectations. The community, as well, is responding with discipline and support for these remarkable people running the school."

Learn more about our emergency response to the earthquake in Haiti.

Help Us Respond to the Haiti Earthquake Emergency. Please Donate Now.

YOU CAN DONATE $10 TO THE HAITI EARTHQUAKE RELIEF FUND BY TEXTING “SAVE” to 20222 (US Only). Standard message rates  apply.

A Fierce Rain in Port-au-Prince

Tanya Weinbergblogrszd

Tanya Weinberg, Save the Children manager, media and communications

 

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

February 18, 2010

 

It’s the middle of the night and outside a fierce rain has whipped up in Port-au-Prince.  It’s coming in thunderous waves, drumming across the roof of Save the Children’s office. 

It gives me a chill, although I’m warm, dry, and safe inside.  I’m thinking how none of that is the case for many of the students and teachers I met at the Bazilo community school earlier today in the hard-hit neighborhood of Carrefour Feuille. 

Right now, about 50 children and adults must be trying to sleep on the gravelly clearing up a steep hillside from the schoolhouse.  They have lost their homes, and some their parents, and now they have only a few small tarps to cover them from this unwelcome storm.

Downhill below their camp, the earthquake-shaken school still stands, but nobody sleeps there or enters for classes. 

The Ministry of Education has not yet evaluated if the building is safe for use.  That will happen next week, said Haitian officials in a meeting our education staff attended today.  Save the Children will provide one of the teams of expert inspectors to be sent to schools across the city.

So many schools have been utterly destroyed– like the St. Gerard and Paroissiale Schools in Port-au-Prince, pictured at right. ( Photo credit: Robert King/Polaris )SchoolRSZD15

I really hope the Bazilo school is deemed safe and the children can come inside from night rains and harsh daytime sun as they try so hard to learn. 

It was inspiring this morning to see half a dozen packed classes of attentive kids crammed into a modest clearing next to the school.  Teachers led the smallest children in song and then lessons on counting.  Just on the other side of a chalkboard propped up from the dirt, older children practiced multiplication out loud.

Nobody complained about anything.  Occasionally some of the youngest children would cry for no easily apparent reason.  But it wasn’t hard to imagine how many reasons there could be.

The school principal, an amazing woman named Marcelin Mireille, explained how Bazilo has become much more than a school.  It’s a haven for children who have endured and lost much, but can find routine and nurturing support in the school’s safe orbit—even if there’s little protection from the rain.

Save the Children supported the Bazilo school before the earthquake through the “Rewrite the Future” campaign to improve education for children in conflict-affected areas. 

Now the school and students need help more than ever. 

Today we brought some learning materials, but it was soon obvious that the greatest immediate need is shelter—especially as the rainy season approaches. 

We’ll also provide training to the teachers on using new materials, supporting the children’s emotional and social needs, and on urgent issues of disaster risk reduction.

I hope they are keeping dry.

Learn more about our emergency response to the earthquake in Haiti.

Help Us Respond to the Haiti Earthquake Emergency. Please Donate Now.

YOU CAN DONATE $10 TO THE HAITI EARTHQUAKE RELIEF FUND BY TEXTING “SAVE” to 20222 (US Only). Standard message rates  apply.

Rain Is Coming to Haiti: How Songs Can Help Save Babies’ Lives

Kathryn_bolles_small

Kathryn Bolles, Save the Children emergency health and nutrition director

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

February 16, 2010

The rainy season is approaching in Haiti, and we know that stagnant water and poor sanitation provide a fertile breeding ground for malaria and diarrhea, which are among the biggest killers of babies and young children.

The situation is made even more dangerous because in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in January, clean water and hygiene supplies are in short supply.

Malaria and diarrhea are easily preventable and treatable. So it is crucial for people to have access to accurate information in their language so they have the tools to protect their children.

RSZDMomSave29 This information is especially important for mothers like Fiony (pictured at right, caring for her 3-month-old baby Rosemary) Photo Credit: Adriana Zehbrauskas / Polaris.

Music is a natural entry point. When people hear a song they like, they are likely to remember the tune and the message.

With this in mind, Save the Children is providing broadcast-quality Creole songs to radio stations in Haiti.

Few people have television or electricity, but they are accessing information by radio.

Songs that incorporate lifesaving heath and nutrition messages can take advantage of this fact, reaching more people and better saving the life of newborns and babies.

The songs created by this project, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development, will be aired on local radio stations and Creole services provided by international broadcasters.

Using the power of music, Save the Children is taking action today to save a baby’s life tomorrow.

To listen to the Creole songs and messages, please click here.

Learn more about our emergency response to the earthquake in Haiti.

Help Us Respond to the Haiti Earthquake Emergency. Please Donate Now.

YOU CAN DONATE $10 TO THE HAITI EARTHQUAKE RELIEF FUND BY TEXTING “SAVE” to 20222 (US Only). Standard message rates  apply.

Images from the Field

Click below to view photo albums of Save the Children staff at work in the field. 

‘Miracle Baby’ Winnie: May 18, 2010

Kangaroo Mother Care: April 14, 2010

Baby Tents in Haiti: March 1, 2010

Chief Execs Visit Haiti: February 24-25, 2010

Rice for Haiti’s Hungry: February 8, 2010

Safe Spaces for Kids: February 8, 2010

Lifesaving Medical Relief: February 8, 2010

Relief in Haiti:January 18-24 2010

Haiti Earthquake Emergency: January 12-15 2010

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