By Kelly Di Domenico, Communications Officer
When I visited the Mère Delia Institute in Haiti last year, this all-girls’ school run by the Sisters of Immaculate Conception didn’t actually exist. The school had collapsed during the 2010 earthquake – thankfully with no one inside – leaving the school’s 850 students to make do with sharing one small building, pitching tents in the schoolyard and having classes under the trees. At the time of my visit, workers were just beginning to break ground on the construction of a new school for the girls. Development and Peace had committed $360,000 towards the construction of the school, which was set to have two floors and 20 classrooms.
While workers milled around busily laying bricks for the foundation, strategically placing supports to make the structure anti-seismic and hauling wheelbarrows of cement, the students sat under large tents laid out in the schoolyard doing arithmetic and reciting grammar lessons. What had struck me when I had visited the school was the sense of calm, and even joy, that permeated the atmosphere. The girls giggled during their recess as they played around the small areas still left available to them. Yet, on the other side of the school’s entrance gates, were piles of rubble, abandoned buildings and dilapidated roads that evidenced the effects of the earthquake that had so recently devastated the country and its people. It seemed that in the space of the Mère Delia Institute, the girls could momentarily be at ease and have a respite from the trauma that they lived on a daily basis, instead focusing on learning and envisioning a better future for themselves and their beloved Haiti. If such hope was already flourishing amidst tents and clouds of construction dust, with the school completed, I can only imagine what these students will achieve when they leave those school gates.
Related article: A new school for a new future, January 6, 2011.