No access to education without school fees

As part of the SZ Christmas campaign “Help is joy”, the “Schwäbische Zeitung” has been supporting the Haiti school project for three years, which gives many children access to education by building an educational facility in Verrettes. With the outbreak of the pandemic, most parents can no longer afford school fees for their children.

It has been over ten years since a devastating earthquake devastated the previously poverty-stricken Caribbean country, considered the poorest Latin American country, and killed hundreds of thousands of people. A catastrophe from which the country has not been able to recover due to political and infrastructural reasons as well as increasing crime and constant corruption. The outbreak of the pandemic and an increasing number of unemployed, including many illiterate people, are not improving the situation in the country and are gradually making the residents poorer.

No safety precautions

“Corona does not make the situation on site any easier, as there are almost no tests in the country and nobody knows how many people are affected by Covid-19. There are simply no safety precautions such as compulsory masks here ”, regrets Floribert Föhr, chairman of the Haiti school project. According to Föhr, this means that fewer and fewer parents can afford school fees for their children.

215 students are currently attending classes. “So far that has been 235. I am assuming that some children will have to stay at home now to support their families in their daily struggle for a living, ”says Föhr. So far, the association has paid school fees of around nine euros per month for 75 children. There are now 125 children for whom the association has to pay. Thus, the costs for the upcoming school year would amount to an estimated 12,000 euros instead of around 8,000 euros as before.

There is a lack of income

“Actually, we wanted to buy five more computers for the school (four have already been purchased) so that every classroom can be equipped with a PC, because dealing with and working with the new media is simply important for the children,” explains the former Teacher. A wish that is likely to be difficult to fulfill in the current situation, because like many other clubs, there is likely to be a lack of income due to the corona. “Our Haiti flea market was just able to take place this year and brought us around 3000 euros”.

“If the next flea market planned for February should be canceled, that would mean a big hole for us, because not only the actual event always brings us money, but also the resulting synergy effects, as there are always good discussions here with visitors who are often willing to make an additional donation, ”explains the chairman of the association. He also reckons with less income this year from the “Children help children” campaign, which has so far always given the association a quarter of the funds raised.

Fortunately, the school building is in place. Nevertheless, in such gloomy times, and especially in such a poor country, the association has to struggle to keep the school going. A struggle that has to be, because nothing works without schooling. Especially in a country where poverty and the struggle for survival prevail every day.

The association for the school project in Haiti was founded in 2000 by Sieglinde Mayer from Gebrazhofen, who had already worked in the Albert Schweizer Hospital a year earlier and got to know the country’s poverty here. Together with Ricardo Longchamp, the head of the hospital, who is still the most important point of contact for Föhr, she decided to build a school in Verrettes, a town of 50,000 people about 60 kilometers outside the capital Port-au-Prince. This idea was implemented with the start of construction in 2004 and completion in 2009. Numerous renovation and expansion measures followed. In addition, an apartment was created in 2012 for the caretaker, who also works as a minder.

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