On the third day of October this year, it was the official first day of the 2022-2023 academic year. Instead of the hustle and bustle of parents purchasing school supplies from street vendors and taking their children into their schools, many Haitians are sheltering at home or abandoned schools.
Since the televised speech on Sept. 1 by Prime Minister Ariel Henry about the plan to increase an already skyrocketing gas prices, road blockages consisting of tires, tree branches, concrete blocks, and other objects began popping up unexpectedly in many parts of Haiti. Parents are unable to travel for work for the cash needed to pay for necessities, never mind the increased school fee and supplies due to inflation. Children are sheltered at home from gang violence and kidnapping.
Assessments by Haiti’s Department of Education (MENFP) and United Nations International Organization (UNICEF) conducted in June show that over 200 schools were partially or completely closed by violence in Port-au-Prince, and nearly one in four schools were occupied by armed groups. Large numbers of schools were vandalized and have lost educational materials and office equipment. The upsurge in unrest across the country has also forced families to flee their homes, some of whom are seeking shelter in school buildings, and displacing children far away from their schools.
Compounded by the resurgence of the Cholera, over 2.4 million children are forecasted by UNICEF to miss school for this academic year. Since the first report of Cholera on October 2nd, the virulent disease has spread rapidly, as of October 16, there were 835 suspected cases, 78 confirmed cases, and at least 36 deaths. Without access to clean water and sanitation facilities, the virus poses an extremely serious threat to young children and other vulnerable people.
Looting of UNICEF and partners’ premises and gang blockades throughout the city have significantly slowed, if not completely stopped the delivery of aid to many areas throughout the country. Although some parents are hopeful about the possibility of a slow reopening to the school year, unfortunately the reality seems to tell them otherwise. At IAFL, the volunteers are hard at work to make support available in any way possible. We are staying in touch with the principal at the school for up to the minute information. We give thanks our generous supporters who have remained side by side with us in this fight to improve the lives of these little girls.
Written by Jennifer Shu-Ping Chen
- Haitian Times. (2022). School fail: Parents in Haiti keep children home amid violence | Part 1. Retrieved October 25, 2022, from https://haitiantimes.com/2022/10/05/school-fail-part-1/
- Haitian Times. (2022). “That day, I slept at the school with 17 children” | School fail – Part 2. Retrieved October 25, 2022, https://haitiantimes.com/2022/10/06/that-day-i-slept-at-the-school-with-17-children-school-fail-part-2/
- Haitian Times. (2022). Broken and battered, hundreds of school buildings in Haiti unable to hold classes | School fail – Part 3. Retrieved October 25, 2022, from https://haitiantimes.com/2022/10/24/broken-and-battered-hundreds-of-school-buildings-in-haiti-unable-to-hold-classes-school-fail-part-3/
- Human Rights Watch. (2022). Haiti: Urgently Address Cholera Outbreak Retrieved October 25, 2022, from https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/10/18/haiti-urgently-address-cholera-outbreak
- UNICEF. (2022). Increase in violence and resurgence of cholera in Haiti may leave more than 2.4 million children unable to return to school – UNICEF. Retrieved October 26, 2022, from https://reliefweb.int/report/haiti/increase-violence-and-resurgence-cholera-haiti-may-leave-more-24-million-children-unable-return-school-unicef