NEW ROCHELLE, NY & PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI (Oct. 5, 2012) As the world marks World Teachers’ Day this Friday, Oct. 5, Salesian Missions remembers the teachers-in-training that were killed when a devastating earthquake struck Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010.
Nothing could have prepared the Salesians—or the Haitian people—for the massive devastation and heartbreaking loss that occurred that day. Hundreds of students were killed—many studying to become teachers. More than 250 unsuspecting students, numerous teachers and three Salesians were killed.
The Salesian Missions Office for International Programs, located in New Rochelle, NY, was assigned the task of coordinating international Salesian relief efforts immediately after the earthquake. Early efforts focused on providing basic human needs such as food, water, medical supplies, survival kits and tents for shelter. Thousands of refugees were housed within the confines of Salesian facilities which were not destroyed, and thousands more were provided food.
Prior to the earthquake, the Little Schools of Father Bohnen—“Oeuvre des Petites Ecoles de Père Bohnen” or OPEPB in French— provided education ranging from preschool to vocational training. Teacher training programs educated teachers to serve at the Little Schools and Early Learning Centers.
Since the earthquake, these programs are back up and running. Many of the OPEPB’s students have been studying vocational trades as well as training to be teachers to help prepare future generations of leaders. According to Fr. Zucchi, OPEPB is among the most progressive and the largest school program in Haiti, serving Port-au-Prince’s “best and brightest.”
In addition, in Salesian schools throughout Haiti, more than 1,200 teachers have been hired—most of them trained at Salesian institutions.
“While much progress has been made, life in Haiti is far from normal. Help is still needed to serve the children and families still trying to recover from the disaster,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco.
Today the efforts are focused on rebuilding the country, beginning with providing for and educating its youth.
For more information about Salesian Missions and its work in Haiti, visit www.ProgressInHaiti.org, which includes a detailed 2-year report on progress in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake.
ABOUT SALESIAN MISSIONS’ WORK IN HAITI
Salesian Missions is the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, which has been serving Haiti for the last 75 years. Salesian Missions was instrumental in emergency response and relief efforts in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010. They were among the first responders—providing shelter and medical aid; means to securely transport, store and distribute relief supplies and clean drinking water; and, perhaps most importantly, an understanding of how to get things done in Haiti. Their rebuilding as well as education and training work continues in Haiti.
The Salesians run elementary schools, secondary schools, vocational training institutes and colleges across Haiti. In addition, the Salesians provide shelter for homeless youth and programs for street children. Haiti is one of more than 130 countries around the globe where Salesians operate such programs. For more information download the special 2-year report on progress in Haiti or go to ProgressInHaiti.org.