„If there hadn’t been humedica...I don’t know...”

Anneliese Gutmann tells „her“ story

by Anneliese Gutmann/RBU, 2012/10/10

Many school children consider the end of the summer holidays an unpleasant experience. But not in Haiti, where children saw their school destroyed after the earthquake in 2010. Also in Meyer, where German Anneliese Gutmann founded a school more than 20 years ago, the natural disaster had devastating consequences. A tragic story - with a happy end.

Anneliese Gutmann looks back on a hard and exhausting time. Yet giving up or leaving never represented a viable alternative to her. Photo: humedica.

“After eight years of living in the city of Carrefour, in 1989 I moved to Meyer, a mountain village southeast of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, in order to live in simple conditions with the people there.

Back then, the only concession to modernity in Meyer was a water pipe with a diameter of one centimetre. There was no electricity and no street that really deserved being called a street. Only one school for more than 5000 inhabitants. Therefore, it was to expect that I would soon be asked to build a school there.

The school was supposed to be a project of “helping people to help themselves”, which is why I considered it important to train and employ local people right from the start. Unfortunately, due to the fact that the general situation is continuously worsening, it has not been entirely possible to put this plan into practice. Yet with donations, which we are still dependent on, we make progress.

After the space capacity of the church, where lessons were held for four classes, was exhausted, the construction of a second building became urgently necessary. The start for this was made in 1991. For reasons of space, a two-storey building was built, which had room for ten new classes.

Yet after some years, even the new space capacity was exhausted and we didn’t have enough classrooms for our boys and girls. The building was extended further and when we had room enough for all classes up to the end of secondary school, we had reached our goal.

30 years of work - destroyed in 30 seconds

Yet then came the 12th of January 2010 and in 30 seconds 30 years of work were destroyed. My feelings at that time are difficult to describe. Give up? Go on? And if going on with my work: how?

Finally, it was humedica who made it possible to continue our work. Since the road that had been built in the meantime was impassable, humedica volunteers arrived with a helicopter, thanks to which they were also able to reach other places that were cut off from the outside world and deliver aid there (annotation: the flying hours of Heli Aviation were financed by BILD hilft e. V. – „Ein Herz für Kinder e. V.").

The first contact was strengthened and together we planned and built: while lessons were given for the students under mango trees, in the damaged building of the church and in tents, a new place of hope and a birthplace for the future of many young people came into being.

After the damaged part of the school had been demolished and the damaged roof removed, in spring 2011 we could start with the reconstruction, i.e. the erection of the new building.

Like for the teaching in our school, it was important to me to employ local people for the construction works as well. Since they were literally queuing for work, workers were given employment in alternating weeks. Among them were some of the elder students who, in this way, earned their school fees.

People here basically live from working in the fields, which, however, has not been profitable for some years now. Natural disasters repeatedly made fruitful work impossible. Yet the persistence of the Haitians, who are used to working hard, turned out to be an advantage for our construction works.

Birthplace for a promising future

With combined efforts we mixed mortar, broke stones and carried cement from seven in the morning till late in the afternoon and, stone by stone, the new buildings were erected. Even though this was not common elsewhere, our workers received a lunch every day.

Every single worker was aware of the fact that they would be able to profit from these efforts personally. If not the workers themselves, then their children or grandchildren will have the opportunity of a solid education. In their situation, it’s the only thing they can leave to their descendants.

In the meantime, the building works have been concluded and the rooms have been allocated: the new, one-storey building is used for the elementary school. Two two-storey buildings are used for the third elementary class and for secondary classes. The restored old building is no longer used for lessons but contains offices, the library with a reading room, a computer room a sickroom and bedrooms for the teachers.

Our premises are completed by a kindergarten and a sewing school and thus we have managed to create a place for every single boy and girl, from their youngest age on to the end of secondary education. Apart from that, plans are being made for a training establishment for school and kindergarten teachers, as well as a bible school and afternoon lessons in English and computer science.

All that remains for me to say is thank you to humedica for your support and the successful cooperation. Without your help….I don’t know….”

At this place we at humedica would like to thank all our friends and donors for your continuous support and say thank you to the foundation stars4kids „Profifußballer helfen Kindern", who made the construction of the elementary school possible. With your donation for the people in Haiti you can continue to build future. Thank you very much.

      humedica e. V.
      Reference „Earthquake Haiti
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

      SWIFT-Code: BYLA DE M1 KFB
      IBAN: DE35734500000000004747

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