School is an anchor in difficult times

Gressier, May 10, 2022

Eighty percent of the population in Haiti lives on less than US$2 a day. Children are hardest hit by poverty. The school in Gressier supported by the WACKER Relief Fund gives these children access to education: a gateway to a better future.

The Don Bosco school in Haiti has an excellent reputation, but as a private school, receives no government funding. It is financed with school fees which most families cannot afford. That’s why a big thank you goes to all those whose donations to the WACKER Relief Fund keep the school operational. (Photo: Copyright Don Bosco Mondo e.V.)

To alleviate the lack of education in Haiti, the Salesians of Don Bosco SDB in Gressier set up the Don Bosco school in Riobé, some 25 kilometers from the capital Port-au-Prince. The school was destroyed by the devastating earthquake in 2010 and was rebuilt with the aid of the WACKER Relief Fund and other sponsors. Since then, Haitians face a continuous challenge as they rebuild their lives amid frequently recurring hurricanes and earthquakes that leave destruction and poverty in their wake.

As a result of food shortages, poor hygiene and lack of clean drinking water, the child mortality rate in Haiti is 6.1%. Many parents can’t afford to send their children to school, and children often have to work to help support the family financially. Without access to education, these children stand little chance of improving their lives in future. All the more important that in the past school year, a total of 1,165 girls and boys from kindergarten age to high school graduation were able to take advantage of the educational opportunities offered by the Don Bosco School – thanks to the support of the WACKER Relief Fund, which finances the running costs of the school and the school meals.

After the pandemic-related restrictions, school operations are now afflicted by the tense security situation in Haiti. The school year started late, and classes were suspended prematurely following the assassination of the president in July. Teachers still came to school to correct tests and prepare for the new school year. Despite the delayed start to the school year, they work tirelessly to catch up on schoolwork missed during the coronavirus lockdowns. Recreational activities such as soccer, volleyball and the school band help to strengthen the children’s and young people’s personalities. Festivities were organized with the school children to brighten up their lives and broaden their horizons, such as the agricultural fair, where they learn about cultural customs and different fruit and vegetables from other countries. On Teachers’ Day in May, children who had done a cookery course served food prepared by parents.

There are currently two nurses at the school who help with medical emergencies and give the children guidance on health issues including COVID-19. Sadly, former school director Father Gerald Jeannot SDB died of a coronavirus infection in June 2021. His successor, Father Francois Bony SDB, motivates pupils, teachers and parents to make up for the gaps in the knowledge caused by pandemic-related lockdowns. Vacation courses and exam preparations helped to complete the syllabus and minimize the failure rate.

All in all, we have a long way to go before the school children will be able to perform well – given the difficult economic, social, health and security-related conditions in Haiti,” notes Claudia Ebinger, project coordinator at Don Bosco Mondo e.V. in Bonn. “Classes at the school center and the daily hot meals not only help with the children’s development, they also are an anchor for families in tough times.”

Mirko Kappelhoff, chairman of the WACKER Relief Fund’s Board of Directors, thanks everyone who supports the running coasts of the school with their donations. The WACKER Relief Fund cent donation program plays an important role here,” says Mirko Kappelhoff: “By donating the few cents from rounding down their monthly paycheck, everyone who participates in the cent donation program can help make a big difference.”

Roughly 4,600 employees participate in the WACKER Relief Fund’s cent-donation program. Their support is keeping the schools up and running. With minimal amounts, each employee in Germany can help the fund provide sustainable support in the years ahead. How does it work? Employees agree to have their monthly salaries rounded down to the nearest euro, the difference in cents is then donated to the WACKER Relief Fund. On average, the participating employees donate 50 cents per month.

If you’d like to help, please donate to the following WACKER Relief Fund account with Bayerische Landesbank München:

IBAN DE59 7005 0000‎ 0003 3333 33

BIC BYLADEMMXXX

Please state your name and address on the payment transfer form (in Germany, your WACKER ID number is enough). The relief fund issues donation receipts to employees residing in Germany, as the donations are tax-deductible there. The WACKER Relief Fund says a big thank you for every donation. Receipts are sent out in the first quarter of the year.

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Petra Hettich

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