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Fundraising appeal for SOPUDEP (Society of Providence United for the Economic Development of Petion-Ville) in Port-au-Prince.
The school was started in 2002 by community activist Rea Dol to provide education for children from the poorest families – those who could not afford to send their children to school. Ironically the school is housed in an old building which once belonged to Tonton Macoute Lionel Wooley and the torture chamber he used, now sealed, remains in the compound.
Lionel Wooley was an assassin for the regimes of Papa Doc and Baby Doc Duvalier. In exchange for killing opponents of these repressive regimes in Haiti, he was allowed to steal the property of his victims and claim them as his own. In late 2000, Lionel Wooley died in exile in Miami and the government expropriated the properties he had stolen.
SOPUDEP were able to secure the lease of the property through community and private donations and start renovations. At the time I visited the school in August 2007, whilst a great deal of work had been done, large sections of the school remained in disrepair and open to the sun and rain. SOPUDEP is a community school in the truest sense, which provides education for those who would otherwise not receive one. It also provides hot meals for all the children so at least everyone gets one good meal a day.
Video on the work of Rea in Morne Lazarre district of Port-au-Prince
28 children died in the earthquake and three teachers
Initially the school was being used as shelter but eventually it had to be abandoned due to extensive structural damage from the earthquake. However the school was already in the process of purchasing land for a new building. Desperate to bring some semblance of normality and routine for the children who were completely traumatised, the teachers created a school under tarp using what equipment they could salvage from the abandoned school.
Eventually there will be 16 of these making eight classrooms each housing 200 students. More will be used for housing families. Each structure costs under $250 and can last for at least a year before repairs.
However the children are in desperate need of classroom supplies, play ground equipment – stationary, chalk, exercise books, balls, skipping ropes etc, and the food programme must be maintained. I am on a mission to raise at least $1000 by the 21st November half to be used to purchase as much equipment as possible and half to be used towards the food programme. So I am counting on everyone following me on Twitter and those reading this blog to donate something no matter how small. Donations can be made VIA the CHIP IN widget on the sidebar.
For more information on the school visit their website here.