Two classes used to be squeezed into one tiny room in the National School of Tamarin De Santo, Haiti.
After the 2010 earthquake, the situation was only made worse. The 7.0 earthquake devastated the small Caribbean Island and affected almost 3.5 million people.
After the earthquake, the school was destroyed. Classroom walls were cracked, the wood was so rotten, that no would dare walk on it and the metal sheets which doubled as a roof were in a terrible state.
According to the principal, Marie Iphémie Pierre, “It was difficult to work when it was raining, due to the condition of the roof. No matter where you were when it rained, you would get soaked.”
The situation was also difficult for the teachers, who were expected hold classes in the school.
“It was difficult for the teachers to manage the class properly with two classrooms in just one space. Some children had to sit on a rock if they wanted to attend class as there was not enough benches for all the children to sit comfortable. It was such a tiny space,” says Marie.
“There were times I felt so discouraged, I wanted to give up but I knew as a teacher, it was my job to solve these problems. The community needed someone to help rebuild the school and we knew we had to do something about it.”
There was a large piece of land available, so Marie and her colleagues decided to find financial help to rebuild their broken school
“We approached several NGOs and institutions to help, but it was Plan Ireland that supported us to rebuild our school. Now, life is completely different,” says Marie. “The classrooms are now up to the Ministry of Education standard and children no longer fight for a place to sit. The teachers no longer complain about the state of the chalkboard and have my own office.”
For Marie, school life is completely different and she is filled with joy every time she thinks of the new school – and she is more than happy to tell others in Haiti how her broken school has now been rebuilt.
“When I became the school principal, I went to the district office and one of the members made fun of me by saying, ‘They have sent you to be principal in a miserable school.’ So, I replied: ‘You should come and visit what you call a miserable school.’ Several days later, he came and he was astonished by the brand new building. I told him it was thanks to Plan Ireland.”
Marie has been inspired to continue to build back better and she is dedicated to making the school the best it can be.
“In the future, I would like to see a new kitchen and dining hall; a playground; three additional classrooms and a new classroom for kindergarten-aged children; a new room for the janitor and a system where we can capture water and stop buying trucks of water for the usage of the school,” says Marie.