Little Mackencia’s new school

Since the earthquake last August, UNICEF has been working around the clock to rehabilitate or rebuild schools damaged or destroyed by the disaster in the southwestern Haiti. More than 700 classrooms are yet to be built.

Ndiaga Seck
A young girl smiling in a classroom.
14 June 2022

L'Asile, 2 June 2022 – In the morning of August 14, 2021, little Desamours Mackencia wanted to get out of their room when the disaster struck. “I was about to open the door to get out when I saw the wall was going to fall on my bed. I ran very quickly in the yard, and I see the earth shaking,” she said. The 11-year-old girl in 4th grade primary school was very lucky, although while fleeing to avoid the worst, she was injured. "A door fell on me as I was walking out," she added.

On that day, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck southwestern Haiti, affected 800,000 people, including 340,000 children, damaging or destroying 1,250 schools in the departments of Sud, Les Nippes and Grand'Anse.

Valade public school that little Mackencia attends at L’Asile in Les Nippes, is one of the schools destroyed by the earthquake. “After the earthquake, I spent several days without going to school. When I came back, I saw that the school had collapsed and that another school was being built,” she explained.

Long before the earthquake, Valade public school was in a bad shape. Its classrooms could not resist the power of the natural disaster “which crushed everything”, as Précile Jamil the school director described it. But for him, the most important thing is to see his 87 students return to school. “Children have to study. No matter the natural disaster, parents should send children to school. I would thank the Ministry of National Education, UNICEF and the construction companies for this beautiful building”.

A builder who works in a construction site.
Joel Petit Frère participates in the reconstruction of the new building where his son comes to school.

He builds the school for the love of his son

With support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Valade school was rebuilt. UNICEF is committed to building 900 classrooms in the three departments and has deployed several teams of engineers and workers to accelerate the construction and rehabilitation of schools. “My job is to manage and supervise all the construction projects. Some schools are of difficult access, making our work more difficult,” Mackinzy Theodore Consultant Engineer at UNICEF Haiti said.  

Some workers put their heart into building the school. That’s the case of Petit Frere Joel who works as a mason on the construction site of the school certainly for the money he earns to feed his family, but above all for the love he has for his son. "I have a 6-year-old child, and this is where he comes to school," Joel said. He is also aware of the beauty of the building, which will help improve the learning conditions for children. “I am proud to participate in the reconstruction of the school. The children will breathe new air because it is a good construction.”

UNICEF works night and day to rehabilitate or rebuild schools damaged or destroyed by the disaster in the Great South of Haiti.

Needs to urgently build 120 additional schools

Damages and losses caused by the earthquake are estimated at US$1.62 billion, while recovery needs amount to US$1.98 billion. More than 260,000 children need humanitarian assistance.

Since 2 June 2021, the route to the south from the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince has been blocked by gangs, which has made humanitarian operations more costly while lengthening delivery time. By July 2022, 38 schools will be rebuilt, for at least 228 classrooms. While the next school year begins in September, UNICEF will urgently need to build 120 additional schools to restore the right to education for every child.

The new Valade school brings joy to the community and children. Little Mackencia stayed there marveling the newly built classrooms. “I am very happy because I see another school. I really like this new building”.