Safeguarding St. Paul's School
I first traveled to Haiti in response to the 2010 earthquake. There are no words to describe the situation in those days. It was pain, destruction, and loss I had not known possible. Despite heroic community-based rescue efforts, and relief missions from the international community, thousands of people spent their final days beneath rubble, hoping and waiting to be saved. A friend who lost everything in the disaster listened to his brothers and sisters go silent, he helpless on the living side of the rubble. I find it hard to imagine a deeper suffering.
With those experiences in mind, and with the knowledge that many of you played formative roles in the building of St. Paul's School, I send this critical update and request for your support and ideas.
The St. Paul’s School structure is in urgent need of substantial repair. We have been closely monitoring cracks in the school building since they first appeared after the earthquake of 2010. Over the past year we’ve hosted five engineering firms in Petit Trou to evaluate safety, and we have come to the conclusion that the building needs significant reinforcement and modification to ensure our students and teachers remain safe in the years to come. The question is not if another natural disaster will strike Haiti, the appropriate and sobering question is when. Our first and fundamental commitment is to the safety of our students. We are in the final phases of designing an approach that will safeguard the school for the next generation of learners and allow the campus to continue to serve as a hub for the community.
Natural disasters and their often brutal consequences tend to gain widespread attention, support, and media coverage. Prevention efforts are less flashy, yet absolutely essential to any responsible international engagement. Our children in Haiti deserve the same safety we demand for our children in Colorado. My sons go to Centaurus High School, which is currently undergoing a $30 million renovation funded by a bond issue. Maintenance and infrastructure investments are an integral part of any serious program; this is something we often take for granted in the U.S.
As you know, we focus consistently on Haitian leadership, Haitian vision, and Haitian capacity to solve problems. These are the cornerstones of our work and they are what motivate us day in and day out. All of our programs strive towards sustainability, providing Haitian people agency and resources. The people of Petit Trou have all of the capacity, talent, and creativity in the world – what theydo not have is a way to raise a large amount of local capital in order to ensure the safety of their school. There is no bond issue forthcoming, no referendum to vote on a tax increase to fund education spending. For this reason, the community at St. Paul’s needs our help.
We’ll soon be sharing more information on our approach to safeguard St. Paul’s School and details on how you can help, including the launch of a crowd-funding initiative that will provide tools and information to help raise funds, spread the word, and keep our children safe for generations to come. Please don’t hesitate to write or call me anytime, I’ll be grateful to hear from you.
On behalf of our friends, partners, and children in Haiti, thank you for standing with us.
* This page is under development. Please stay tuned for further updates.