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Good news from Haiti

22/06/2011: Haiti - Photo gallery

In May, Angela Petenzi, projects co-ordinator of FMSI, visited Haiti with Angélica Alegría, co-ordinator of the Solidarity Bureau of the Province of « México Occidental ». The purpose of the mission was to visit the  projects set in motion with the funds collected after the earthquake, and to study new proposals presented by the local Marist communities.

Luis Barba Berlanga and Nancy Walker Olvera, in charge of the Mexican Association « Kóokay » (www.kookay.org), specialising in community development and sustainable technology projects, also took part in the mission. The Association has donated a solar panel installation for lighting the school at Latibolière and has offered its collaboration for developing projects for access to drinkable water and electric power with the help of ecological technology.

The first stage of the journey was the capital, Port-au-Prince, where signs of the earthquake are still   visible and numerous people still live in camps (villages of tents). The group, accompanied by Brother Frisnel Walter, visited the offices of the World Bank and the European Union to learn more about their  programmes of co-operation and the possibilities of financing.

The mission then continued in the localities of Jérémie, Latibolière and Dame-Maire, where the three Marist communities are engaged in a splendid work for the betterment of Haitian youth. Our guide was Br Antonio Cavazos, responsible for the Sector of Haiti.

At Dame-Marie we visited the secondary school of « Notre-Dame de la Nativité », which is planning enlargement thanks to the Haïti Fund and the Province of « México Occidental ».  . The need for new structures, more than those already planned for the project, was confirmed during the visit; a new budget is under study. The school presently numbers  368 students and, thanks to the project, this number will be able to be increased as well as the educational activities provided. In the same zone, another proposal presented concerns the primary school « Notre-Dame de Fatima », which needs restructuring work in order to be able to offer its 340 pupils sufficient space for the school and for games.

In the locality of Latibolière, the Marist Brothers conduct a secondary school where the students arrive each morning from the neighbouring villages, close to the forest, after long kilometres… A good number of them can only attend the school thanks to study bursaries. Br Laurent Beauregard has set up a programme of literacy and school reinsertion intended for those children who have never been able to attend the school. This programme also provides a supplementary meal and recreational activities. Moreover, they are involved in enrolling on the civil register those who, for economic reasons, have not been enrolled by their parents and who, therefore, do not officially exist! The proposal presented to FMSI is to maintain the programme and to extend it later to a second group of children. And finally, it is at Latibolière that they wish to start a little installation of solar panels for the lighting of the main streets and the houses, in collaboration with the Province of « México Occidental » and the « Kóokay » Association already mentioned.

 

In the town of Jérémie, the Marist community has set in motion an integrated project of farming-stock raising production, created and promoted by the Marist University of Mérida (Mexico), which it is desired to promote among the local population.

The Brothers have also been involved for some time in social and animation activities for the children and young people of the quarter for whom the street is often their only meeting place. This has given rise to the other proposal presented to FMSI by the Haïti Fund, in view of the construction of a community centre for the development of social, recreational, sporting activities for the children and youth, school support for children who have left school, literacy courses for adults, promotion of women, horticulture, diffusion of ecological technologies for having drinkable water and electric power.

In this future centre, it is desired also to run training courses for teachers and to disseminate the new  teaching material of which the places visited are so much in need.

In Haiti, the most difficult task will not be the removal of the debris caused by the earthquake, but the construction of a new society by removing the  obstacles which, up to now, have led to poverty and the exclusion of a large part of the population.

Among the good news, it is necessary to emphasize one item: the people of Haiti do not give up. The main market of Port-au-Prince, with thousands of persons coming to buy or sell, at innumerable little counters, proves this every day, as well as so many young people who, following the example of Ernso and Onald, tell you about their projects.

The medium age of the Haitian population is about 20. The future of the population depends on education and the promotion of the young.

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