Haiti (MNN) ― Makeshift schools are popping up all over the ruins of Port-au-Prince. Along with the government infrastructure, it will take a long time to rebuild Haiti's education structure.
A report from the Ministry of Education says schools in Port-au-Prince and other areas affected by the earthquake are unlikely to open again until March, at the earliest.
The quake either flattened or severely damaged almost 80-percent of the educational facilities in the capital city. In outlying areas, primary and secondary schools finally opened their doors to students again.
Steve Geurink with Worldwide Christian Schools says they're partnering with CRECHE, a network of Christian groups with 231 schools in Haiti. "Over 200 schools were either damaged or destroyed in this earthquake, resulting in about 60,000 children not able to go to school and 1500-2000 teachers not able to teach."
CRECHE team members began the search for a temporary solution. The shortage of aid supplies stymied their efforts. Geurink explains: "One of the goals of CRECHE was to find tents big enough to have the children be able to be in school out of the hot sun and the elements, but they've been unable to find tents."
Their inability to get tents for the schools magnifies the need: if students are not in school, they run the risk of getting involved in gangs, or finding adults who might exploit them.
Getting schools up and running is critical for recovery on many levels. Geurink says, "Christian schools can best answer the questions for those children, so I think it not only is necessary to get children back into schools for a normal lifestyle for them, but it is the best method for the children even to be able to cope."
The "Five Gallon Challenge" is simple: find a five-gallon bucket, fill it with donations, and give that donation through WWCS as part of this massive rebuilding project. Geurink explains, "This will be a yearlong campaign which would then result in us eventually sending our volunteer work teams to Haiti. We plan to be rebuilding in Haiti."
Geurink is hoping the initial phase brings in between $50-$80,000. To put it in perspective, it will cost $3,000 just to clear away the debris at a school, multiplied by 200. That's before the actual rebuilding starts. Geurink says they will be purchasing construction materials and sending in rebuilding teams as soon as it is safe to do so.