L'École L’Amitie spared from earthquake! Knowing that education and creative expression are essential to the survival of a people and a nation, for this year of 2010 we will allocate all profits from sales to the rebuilding of educational and arts institutions in the earthquake region. Read more here.
L'École L’Amitie (Friendship School) is a community school, begun and, insofar as possible, sustained by local efforts of the population of the district. It is a dense and impoverished population, with unemployment running as high as 80%, and underemployment at 100%. Parents of the nearly 1000 children who attend this school are too poor to afford the fees and ancillary costs of sending their children to public school, much less one of the private schools. Moreover, there is no public school in this district. With donations and sweat equity, parents were able to build a cinderblock school of five classrooms, and a tiny office for the director and staff. There is a small, lockable storage space as well. Blackboards are some sheets of building material, painted with whatsoever green or black paint they could find. Up to 90 children may have to be wedged into one classroom. The PAM (a food provision program of the UN), with matching funds from a donor, enabled the school to finish building a cantina where the children are served a mid-day meal. For many this is their nourishment for the day. There is a small play yard, and they plan to replace the latrine demolished when the municipal government dug an open sewer through the school grounds. The parents were at least able to save the classrooms, which were also slated to be razed. In the last year, in part supported by sales of Cap Haitien art, two new classrooms are now open.
The teachers are able and dedicated, but recognize they need further training. None has a degree. Despite that, and because of their dedication, the students do well in the national exams. In fact their percentages of passing grades are greater than those of some area public schools. In 2003, the sixth grade students were one of two sets of semi-finalists in the city-wide academic competition. Unfortunately they could not go to the finals as they lacked the funds to pay for their entry into the final round. Each teacher has been able to take some of the in-service training provided by the state, but subsidized by a donor. None of the teachers earns enough to pay the fees the state requires for in-service training. In fact, they have sometimes gone for months without any pay. Perhaps the most pressing need is to create an endowment or other form of on-going funding to pay salaries. There is also need for school equipment and materials, including a library of books that can be contained and locked. Since in-kind donations must go through customs and costs for transport and customs fees are exorbitant, we have found that it is far better to purchase necessities in Haiti itself, Our familiarity with local sources and with local labor, including the free-will work of parents, enables financial contributions to be maximally beneficial.
Documents concerning the school from the UN, from the Cap Haïtien municipal government, and from the school's records of budget and expenditures are on file at the University and at Arts of Haiti Research Project in Ithaca.