In Haiti, Schools are Refuge for Children

    Haitian children attend a primary class in a tent school by the United Nations Children's Fund and the Danish Red Cross. Photo by: Sophia Paris / UN Photo

    Schools supported by international organizations in Haitian displacement camps fulfill a very important social function for the country’s traumatized children. The majority of Haitian children did not experience schooling before the massive Jan. 12 earthquake that shook the country to the ground, and the schools in the camp are their first learning experience, the Guardian says.

    In Corail Cesselesse, a settlement camp managed by the United Nations and its partner organization, Plan International, opened a makeshift school where the organization expects to receive up to 200 children in morning and evening shifts. The school has began receiving children but still lacks equipment, including chairs and tables.

    “Getting materials to equip the schools has been one of the biggest logistical issues,” said Damien Queally, emergency manager of Plan Haiti. “At the moment, we have only been able to meet 10% of the overall need at the schools we are supporting.”

    The situation in other parts of Haiti is somewhat similar, the Guardian says.

    Schools were destroyed in the earthquake, and temporary infrastructure put up to serve as classrooms are ill-equipped or not durable enough to stand the changing weather.

    Among the other concerns in schools and camps, especially the informal ones, are hunger and malnutrition. Several children who attend temporary schools or child-friendly spaces set up by non-governmental organizations are unable to concentrate because of hunger. The majority of them also show signs of malnutrition, including swollen bellies and ginger hair, according to the Guardian.

    About the author

    • Ivy mungcal 400x400

      Ivy Mungcal

      As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.