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HAITI/ AVSI: Educational structures as a response to the earthquake

AVSI opens 9 new schools, 5 nutritional centers, artisan’s workshops and an educational center in Haiti, two years after the deadly earthquake. AVSI worker FIAMMETTA CAPPELLINI comments.

Haiti, Avsi con i suoi partner inaugura le opere avviate dopo il terremoto (Foto: Avsi) Haiti, Avsi con i suoi partner inaugura le opere avviate dopo il terremoto (Foto: Avsi)

On April 26, AVSI in Haiti inaugurated a series of structures built in response to the catastrophic earthquake of January 12, 2010: 9 schools; five nutritional centers; a complex of artisan workshops; and an educational center. These structures were built in the toughest neighborhoods, Cité Soleil and Martissant, in Port-au-Prince, the capital that on its own is famous for being a complex place.

It was a special day in Cité Soleil, a day of joy and thanksgiving, one of those occasions that will long be remembered. After over 24 months of almost uninterrupted work, of great effort with little room for detail, we finally got some time for us, for our community, to smile at the timid results we had achieved.

Working in these communities has always been a daily challenge: a challenge to keep the workers safe (too much risk, too much violence); a challenge for development cooperation (too many conflicts, too many dangers that the results are insufficient); a challenge for the structure of humanitarian aid (too much widespread poverty, too complex an environment). AVSI took up this challenge, now six years ago, when they opened a base here, an office that did not close even in difficult times, creating a team that has tried never to give up when faced with difficulties, assuming all the risks that were to be taken, even the most complex.

Even organizing this opening ceremony proved a challenge. The discussions were almost interminable: “if something happens”, “and if we fail”, “and if...”, but the desire to give a strong sign of hope to the community finally prevailed and the inauguration happened.

On the morning of April 26, in the presence of Auxiliary Bishop Msgr. Lafontant and the Pastor of the community of Cité Soleil, the Apostolic Nuncio Mgr. Bernadito Auza blessed the structures of Place Fierté: 4 schools and a nutrition center. The other 5 schools and 6 centers were also inaugurated long-distance through the blessing of artisan crosses, which our collaborators then brought to the other sites.

The ceremony was attended by many international and local institutions, including the World Bank, UNICEF, WFP, the Ministry of Social Affairs, and Partner Organizations, a sign of respect and appreciation at the various levels of the work we had done. Also, many Italian friends were present, representing the incredible number of people who supported, in silent gratuity, this major work of responding to the disaster. Institutions and friends who, during the ceremony, represented for us the true face of the many supporters who believed with courage in our actions and in the future of these communities, refusing to yield to how the majority thinks, but desiring to affirm that even the impossible becomes possible if you believe together.

This success, the great challenge that has been met, in the end is just that: making possible what seems impossible.