News / Americas

Some Haitian Schools Reopen, Students Slow to Return

Mirebalais' School Director and new student from Port Au Prince
Mirebalais' School Director and new student from Port Au Prince

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Mike O'Sullivan

People near the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince are taking tentative steps to get their lives back to normal, after the devastating earthquake on January 12.  In Mirebalais new students have arrived and classes are expected to resume in a few days.

In the countryside, an hour's drive from Port-au-Prince, many people in Mirebalais have returned to their daily routine.

A church-run school is officially open and the director and his staff are waiting for students.

Nineteen-year-old Cimeau Cassandra is one of several students from Port-au-Prince whose schools are now closed and who have come to Mirebalais to register for classes.

"My school did not collapse, but has some damage," said Cimeau Cassandra.

The school's director, Raphael St. Hilare, says students outside Port-au-Prince have suffered a trauma, even if their communities escaped damage in the earthquake.

"Yes, this is something we have to consider because many of those children are still in a state of shock," said Raphael St. Hilare. "They are still afraid because they have heard on the radio that there are some aftershocks."

This 12-year-old student from Port-au-Prince is thankful to be in Mirebalais.

"My house was destroyed, as well as my school, so my mom didn't want me to stay in Port-au-Prince," said the student.

Life remains hard for many in Port-au-Prince. 

The sight of a food truck brings hundreds of desperate people into the streets.

Water is free and people rely on groups like the Red Cross to distribute it.

These young quake survivors, now living in Mirebalais, look forward to starting classes at their new school.

The school is empty now, but school director Raphael St. Hilare says classes will soon resume.

"I am optimistic," he said. "So as usual in our culture, the first week is always a week of observation.  So next week, I hope things will be normal."

People here say Haiti will need help to rebuild its educational system.  Schools remain closed in the parts of Port-au-Prince that were hardest hit by the earthquake.  
 

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