By Siobhán Hughes
On January 12th 2010, an earthquake shook the city of Port-Au-Prince in Haiti. Homes, schools and hospitals crumbled to the ground killing and displacing thousands. Children were orphaned and left vulnerable as their homes folded into rubble.
SERVE committed to the relief efforts and just days after the earthquake, Gerry O’ Connor flew to Port-Au-Prince. In the Carrefour area of Port-Au-Prince, St. Gerard’s primary school collapsed, causing the deaths of over 300 children. The school through morning, afternoon and evening sessions delivered education programmes to 1,300 primary and secondary children on a daily basis.
SERVE worked in partnership alongside Asociacion para la Solidaridad and Acoger y Compartir (AYC) during the relief effort.
Each of the three partners are connected to the Redemptorists who implemented a comprehensive emergency programme delivering immediate relief aid to thousands of homeless families. They also recovered the hundreds of dead children that died in St Gerard’s school. Within months of the earthquake, with the support of international partners, the Redemptorists successfully built a transitional school which has fully functioned as a primary school for 664 children since the earthquake. SERVE, Asociacion para la Solidaridad and AYC worked together to rebuild St. Gerard’s primary school.
Stephen Stranney, a past SERVE volunteer (2010, 11, 12) acted as the consultant engineer for this project. He visited the site location prior to the building of the school, during and after. The skills and knowledge that Stephen brought to this project were invaluable, ensuring the highest quality and standard of construction throughout the building of St Gerard’s
On September 17th, St. Gerard’s Primary School was officially opened. Over 600 children are attending this permanent school which is earthquake, typhoon and storm resistant. They now have a safe and secure place to learn.
This success story of partnership and solidarity to achieve such a positive outcome can be mirrored throughout development. SERVE believes in partnerships, sharing knowledge and skills, and maximising the potential of the projects and people that we work with. Four organisations forming a partnership, determined to create a learning space for a community that was devastated by the 2010 earthquake is truly Solidarity in Action.
If you would like to read an interview with Patricia Giraldo from our partner Acoger Y Compartir, you can read it here.
Below, Stephen Stranney speaks about his experience with SERVE and his role in the rebuilding of St. Gerard’s School in Haiti.
Video ‘A New Beginning’ by our partner Acoger y Compartir