Saturday, April 24, 2010

HAITI:Schools Lure Students Back With a Free Daily Meal

By Rajshri

A meal of rice, a few vegetables and a little bit of meat is being offered free to lure Haitian children back to school.

By 10:30 am on a Wednesday, the smell of chicken stock wafts through the Rosalie Javoukey school, located in a neighborhood of Haiti's devastated capital Port-au-Prince.

In the shade of a three-story building scheduled for demolition, women bustle about, doling food onto metal and plastic plates on huge tables set up in between white Unicef tents.

The playground has been eliminated "because it is covered in tents," said Sister Marie-Bernardette, the school's headmistress, and now it serves as a staging area for the daily free school meal.

The children, aged five to 12, wait their turn to retrieve their meal. They return to their desks, say grace and then begin eating, "in silence," their headmistress reminds them.

Schools across Haiti's capital, devastated by a January 12 quake that killed at least 220,000 people, including some 1,350 teachers and 38,000 students, officially reopened on April 6.

But 100 days after the devastating 7.0-magnitude quake, the country continues to struggle and many children are still missing from classrooms in the capital.

Some have left for the countryside, others were killed in the quake, and some are being kept home by their parents.

"It's difficult to convince parents to send their children to school. They are scared that there will be another earthquake and the school will be destroyed," said Alejandro Chicheri, a spokesman for the World Food Programme.


Source: MedIndia

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