Education International
Education International

One month on, Haitians stand united together in grief

published 12 February 2010 updated 12 February 2010

One month after the catastrophic earthquake of 12 January, Haitian teachers and trade unionists will join their fellow citizens in a national day of mourning and remembrance for the estimated 230,000 people who perished on that terrible day.

Jean Lavaud, General Secretary of the Confédération Nationale des Educateurs d’Haïti, said it is impossible to know precisely how many teachers died, but at least 700 are still missing. Many hundreds more are known to be surviving in conditions of deep trauma and great hardship.

Lavaud and the other union leaders have lost their homes and everything they owned. They are sleeping out in the open and living in the streets. Heavy rains now are making the already appalling situation even worse for tens of thousands of people without tents or any kind of shelter.

Aid is still not yet reaching the people worst affected, despite the great number of organisations present on the ground, Lavaud reported, adding that teachers are among the most neglected, partly because they are too proud or too reluctant to beg for food or other assistance. Their only recourse at present is to rely on EI for immediate help, he said.

EI, like all international donors, has faced difficulties in transferring funds because so much damage was done to Haiti’s banking system. However, working with affiliates and other NGO partners, EI has been successful in sending funds totalling 21,000 Euros. This has enabled CNEH leaders to begin distributing emergency funds to teachers in some of the hardest-hit areas, such as Jacmel, Petit-Goave, Grand Goave and Nippes.

Fortunately, all the members of CNEH’s executive bureau survived the earthquake and its numerous aftershocks, although Magalie Georges, Training and Education Coordinator, suffered serious head injuries. She received initial emergency treatment in Haiti, but has since been transferred to Providence Hospital in Washington, DC, where she will undergo further scans and testing.

Helen Li of the National Education Association’s international relations department braved the blizzard conditions in Washington to pay a visit to Magalie. “She is in good spirits, and is able to sit and walk,” Li wrote, adding that they are not sure how long she will remain in hospital as they are still waiting for her neurologist’s report.

Please show your support for Haitian teachers and the future of education in Haiti by contributing to the EI Solidarity Fund. Donations can be transferred to the following account:

Education International “Fonds de Solidarité” ING Bank Rue du Trône, 14-16 1000 Brussels Account number: 310-1006170-75 IBAN: BE05 3101 0061 7075 SWIFT OR BIC CODE: BBRUBEBB