Earl Grey Upgrades Haitian School

A School in Haiti

After the success of Cuppa Change’s first effort, Claire started looking for another project.  She now knew that the system of selling fair trade coffee to raise money to build a schoolhouse worked.  But where else could she run a program?

When Claire’s daughter Findley graduated from Junior Public School and went to middle school at Earl Grey Senior Public School, she joined Earl Grey’s Free the Children ‘Me to We’ club.  Claire saw the perfect fit for Cuppa Change.

She proposed the idea of running a Cuppa Change project at Earl Grey to Ms. Christina Mathura and Ms. Jan-Marie Divok, the two teachers running the 2010/2011 FTC Club.  The teachers were eager to move forward with the idea, not only because the project supported a great cause, but also because it provided the students at Earl Grey with excellent cross-curricular teaching moments about social justice and character education.

Earl Grey students voted on the country in which they wanted the schoolhouse to be built by Free the Children.  This voting mechanism was put onto Earl Grey’s website by Mr. Larry Richardson, the school’s IT teacher.  Through the vote, the student body decided to build their school in Terre Cassée, Haiti.

Free The Children has a 10-year history of working in Haiti and developing strong connections with local partners.  Prior to the earthquake in January 2010, FTC built nine schools, a nutrition centre, sanitation facilities and helped support teacher salaries and technical training for students.  Nearly 2,000 children in Haiti attend Free The Children schools.

Mr. Cappel, Earl Grey’s Intermediate Vocal Music teacher, worked on and recorded Cuppa Change jingles with his Grade 7 and 8 students, a few of which were presented at a school-wide assembly.  The students had a great time and their jingles did a fabulous job promoting the Cuppa Change program within the school.

We had an Earl Grey parent generously volunteer to turn his office staff holiday party into an Earl Grey Cuppa Change fundraiser – and the event raised $1200.  We were ecstatic about the party’s success and thankful to everyone involved for all of their hard work.

Earl Grey sold fair trade products every two weeks over a three-month period.  Parents’ orders were filled six times – once every two weeks.  Fair trade products came home with the students on two Fridays of each month.

Over the 2010/2011 school year, Cuppa Change sales raised a total of over $3,578.  To boot, Free the Children clubs in previous years at Earl Grey had already raised $6,400 toward the building of a school.  Given an FTC school costs $8,500 US to build, we realized that in two months, we had already reached our goal of having enough to build a school.  So the students in Findley’s Me to We club decided to try to reach beyond their target and also fund the teacher’s salary or the school latrine, two goals they managed to achieve.

Towards the end of the school year, the FTC club applied for a Big Dreamers Award from Free the Children, and were thrilled to receive $2,000 to put towards a project of their choice.  With this award, and the rest of the money we raised selling fair trade products, the FTC Club’s Student Executive Committee and the teachers who led the club decided together to apply the funds in the following ways: $1,100 towards clean water and sanitation in the school’s community; $650 towards healthcare services; $1,050 towards alternative income projects in the community; and $650 towards the teacher’s salary, textbooks and supplies.

The great news is, construction of Earl Grey’s school in Haiti began before the 2010/2011 school year ended, so Earl Grey students were able to see the fruits of their labour.

The original school in Terre Cassée was damaged in Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, so FTC rebuilt classrooms to make it earthquake proof.  They also built a number of stairwells to make the children feel safer, given the children were so scared of earthquakes that even when they heard a loud noise and were on the top floor, they would try to jump down to the bottom floor.

For more on the building in Terre Cassée, please refer to Free the Children’s Spring 2011 community report, www.freethechildren.com/reporting/terrecassee/doc/report.pdf.

Here are some photos from the repaired school in Terre Cassée.  The preschool children are in red and the elementary children wear blue uniforms.

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