Puerto Rican Organization Builds School in Haiti

Katelín López (80 Grados) writes about an elementary school that a Puerto Rican support group— Comité de Solidaridad con el Pueblo de Haití—began building in October 2010. The elementary school will accommodate 300 students in Léogane, Haiti, the epicenter of the January 2010 earthquake. The school will open this October.

According to committee coordinator Magali Millán, the previous school where the children were studying was destroyed. A hallmark of the new school is that it is eco-friendly; with environmentally conscious elements incorporated into the school design by architect and designer Edwin Quiles, including reuse of water, the use of solar energy, and the concept of cross ventilation. According to Quiles, the school was built taking into account the idiosyncrasies of Haitian culture, keeping in mind that the Haitian cultural context is different from the one in Puerto Rico, and that it was necessary “To have some understanding of the culture of Haiti.”

The school will have an organic garden for children to keep up and benefit from its harvest. It will also be equipped with a computer room, six classrooms, offices, a store room, a kitchen, bathrooms, and a dining hall. The colors that predominate are bright, to communicate joy. According to Peggy Ann Bliss (Puerto Rico Daily Sun) Quiles also incorporated open spaces, such as the concept of “lakou” (an open courtyard). Another unique feature of the school is a mural of self-portraits painted by the children.

The committee is now adding the finishing touches to the construction and acquiring the necessary furnishings and materials—blackboards, desks, and chairs, etc.—for the classrooms. Although most of the funding came through organizations such as la League of Cooperatives, of the Catholic Church Diocese in Caguas, Colegio Lourdes, and Pro Misiones Sor Ileana, additional funds for school furnishings and other materials were gathered through the recent concert “Una escuela para Haití,” which took place on September 24 at the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras, featuring Haitian performers Sara Rénélik and James Jean Baptiste, with the Puerto Rican group Así Somos.

Comité de Solidaridad con el Pueblo de Haití is a non-profit organization composed of Puerto Ricans and members of the Haitian community residing in Puerto Rico; since 2004 the group has organized activities to raise consciousness about the reality Haitian people are facing.

For more information, you may contact Magali Millán at (787) 349-6217, Josie Pantoja at (787) 374-8348, or by email at haitipuertorico@gmail.com

For full article (in Spanish), see http://www.80grados.net/2011/09/puerto-rico-levanta-una-escuela-para-haiti/

For more information (in English), see http://www.prdailysun.com/news/Benefit-at-UPR-Saturday-to-build-school-in-Haiti

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