Slovenia builds school in Haiti

Port au Prince, 6 October 2011 – Yesterday, a school built with funds provided by the Slovenian Government opened its doors in the Port au Prince suburb of Carrefour. Almost three hundred children who lost their homes in a catastrophic earthquake almost two years ago and were thus forced to forget about life in the school playground are now beginning a new era of learning and widening their horizons with their schoolmates. Lessons will be given by local teachers, while NGOs will prepare a programme of leisure activities for children from the newly established 'Fraternity Village'.

The school, named after Slovenia as the École Communale de la République de Slovénie, was opened by the Slovenian Ambassador in Washington, Roman Kirn, along with the Mayor of Carrefour, Yvone Jerome, President of International Relief & Development (IRD) Arthur Keys, and the country director of ADRA Haiti, Fritz Bissereth.

The school building is composed of modular units which provide for six classrooms and a library. In the schoolyard there is a playground with various elements and a basketball court. The Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was able to provide the modular units for the Haitian children on the basis of a public tender won by the Slovenian company Trimo.

The units were installed by a consortium of NGOs chosen by public tender and headed by SLOGA, the Slovenian NGDO platform for development cooperation and humanitarian aid, in cooperation with IRD Slovenia, Food for Life Global and ADRA Haiti.

As partners of the 'Slovenia for the Children of Haiti' project, the NGOs chose the location, as well as prepared the site and constructed the buildings with the help of the local population. A Slovenian volunteer participated in the implementation of the project, establishing a very good relationship with the local community.

With the 'Slovenia for the Children of Haiti' project and with the establishment of the school, Slovenia is achieving an international development cooperation objective, i.e. providing aid to children as the most vulnerable population group, and contributing to the attainment of the second Millennium Development Goal.
On their own initiative, the children from Prežihov Voranc Primary School from Maribor organised a humanitarian campaign, making small blue bags filled with school utensils and toys; they sent them to Haiti with the assistance of the Foreign Ministry and NGOs. The Haitian first graders were given the blue bags on their first day in the new school.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomes the humanitarian activity of the children from Maribor, whose creative idea and action has made the Haitian children in the new Slovenian school much happier.
Slovenia allocated EUR 240,000 for the implementation of the above project. The volume of its humanitarian assistance for Haiti’s reconstruction has thus totalled EUR 600,000.

Only 48 hours after the devastating earthquake, Slovenia offered immediate relief in the amount of EUR 50,000, channelled through the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. This was followed by a contribution of tents worth EUR 90,000 (delivered through the mechanisms of the European Commission).

At the UN Conference for Haiti Reconstruction on 31 March 2010 in New York, the Republic of Slovenia announced additional aid in the amount of EUR 465,000, EUR 200,000 of which was allocated to the Emergency Response Relief Fund and transferred in November 2010. A portion of these funds was earmarked for the construction of modular units intended for the care and education of children in Haiti. This is how the Slovenian school was built.

Slovenians responded generously to this humanitarian catastrophe by making contributions via non-governmental humanitarian organisations (UNICEF, Caritas and Red Cross) and managed to raise almost EUR 750,000 in just a few weeks.

Caritas Slovenia and the Missionary Centre joined the efforts to reconstruct Haiti – the former is participating in the reconstruction of an orphanage in Carrefour and the latter in providing sanitation in Saint Jean Bosco, Miragoane diocese.