Haiti: News from Lakay Mwen, the school for the children supporting by the Community of Sant’Egidio’s long distance adoption program that has become a shelter for people who have lost their homes.
January 26, 2010
The Community of Sant’Egidio’s long-distance-adoption program has been active in Haiti since 2005. It supports a group of children and teenagers who live on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, about seven kilometers (five miles) from the city center.
Over the years these children have had access to primary and secondary education thanks to Lakay Mwen School, attended by 1500 students of all grade levels from elementary to secondary. The school also provides medical care and nourishing, healthy food.
The area in which the children live consists mostly of improvised shacks made of wood, sheet metal, clay, or rough bricks. They are small houses, just a few meters square, with only enough space for a bed, a table, some chairs, and some basic shelving. Many of these houses were destroyed by the earthquake and the people who lived there now live and sleep in the street.
When the earthquake struck (5 p.m. local time), the school was full of students. Classes meet in shifts: elementary classes meet in the morning, and high school and vocational classes – carpentry, cooking, and computer science – meet in the afternoon. Fortunately the school building, built in part thanks to the support of the long distance adoption program in 2005, did not collapse or suffer serious damage.
The children and teenagers were immediately gathered in the schoolyard and quickly joined by their families, who, along with many other residents of the area, asked to spend the night there.
Since January 12, the school yard has served as a place of shelter and protection for many, perhaps the only welcoming place in this time of terror and devastation.
Even the elderly who used to live in the little houses built around the school – houses that collapsed or were damaged during the quake – now sleep in the schoolyard. These are elderly people who lived alone and who have been supported by the Long Live the Elderly movement since 2002. Unfortunately one of our first elderly friends, Apollon, was killed when his house collapsed.
The darkness of night is frightening, and cries for help can often be heard in the silence. Acts of violence and theft have increased over the last few days, and tonight people are taking turns watching the area, in part because the schoolyard wall has collapsed.
Our local contact, with whom we were able to speak immediately after the earthquake, has informed us that there is urgent need for food, clothing, and gasoline for electricity and communications..
With the support of long-distance adoptions we will first respond to the immediate emergency and the needs of the children and the elderly.
Then we will need to rebuild homes for the children and the elderly, but to succeed we need the support of many.
Anyone who wants to help can contribute by initiating a long-distance adoption.
The contributions will first be used to respond to the emergency and then to support the needs of a child.
To participate you need to fill out the Application Form, writing “For Haiti” next to the type of adoption chosen and send it to:
Community of Sant’Egidio
Adozioni a distanza
Piazza S. Egidio 3/a 00153 ROMA Italy
or by fax to: +39 06.5800197
or by e-mail to