Catholic News Service Tells Story of Salesian School’s Continued Mission Despite Devastation

By MissionNewswire at March 21, 2011 | 9:02 am | Print

Catholic News Service Tells Story of Salesian School’s Continued Mission Despite Devastation

(Mission Newswire) The devastation caused by the earthquake over a year ago was clear to staff reporter Dennis Sandowski, of the Catholic News Service, who recently visited Haiti and spent time at the Salesian-run School of the Arts and Trades (ENAM) in Port-au-Prince.

What was also clear was that despite the challenges, ENAM continues to offer education to youth and looks to the future (while not forgetting its past). On Jan. 12, 2010, more than 200 students were buried in the rubble of the renowned school known for serving Haiti’s “best and brightest.” Also killed were teachers, staff and an 85-year-old Haitian-born Salesian brother.

In his March 16 Catholic News Service article (Despite Massive Destruction, Salesian-Run School Continues its Mission), Sandowski writes, “Fourteen months ago, the grounds were a desperate scene of trauma and chaos. Virtually every building collapsed during the cataclysmic earthquake. Classes still were in session, just minutes away from dismissal, when 35 seconds of shaking began.”

But much life remains at ENAM, despite the fact a new school is not yet built.  Architectural plans have been drawn up and a budget is set for $32 million.  Salesian leaders in Rome have made the project a top priority.

In the meantime, the teachers (and students) at ENAM are dedicated to doing what they can with what little they have—and making sure classes continue. According to the Catholic News Service article:

“About 15 temporary classroom structures made from plywood, two-by-fours and topped by corrugated steel have replaced the old buildings

Cramped classrooms and the loss of teaching aids have forced teachers to find new ways to teach youngsters. In the first-grade classroom of Astrude Pierre, 65 girls followed her lead by loudly pronouncing Creole sounds as they shared books salvaged from the rubble.

In a neighboring structure, students in Fanor Ramson’s introductory woodworking class learned how to use a handsaw and miter box to cut framing. A lone box and a single saw were being used by a dozen students.

Father Jeannot knows the current educational setting falls short of what the Salesians are accustomed to offering. The emphasis now is on doing the best work possible under trying conditions. Everyone, he said, continues recovering from the earthquake.”

Those who wish to help with the rebuilding efforts, can make a donation at


On Jan. 12, 2010, Salesian Missions lost 85 percent of its schools and buildings in Port-au-Prince when the earthquake struck, killing hundreds of students.

Since the tragedy, progress has been made and students and teachers have returned to class. More than 23,000 students and 1,200 teachers have returned to classes at 10 Salesian Missions educational works throughout Haiti.

To date, students and teachers have returned to the following locations at Salesian Missions schools: Cité Soleil, Cap-Haïtien, Fort-Liberté, Cayes, Gressier, Pétion-Ville, OPEPB (Little Schools), Gonaïves, Thorland and Fleuriot.

While some humanitarian organizations and many people have left the country, Salesian Missions will continue its work for the people of Haiti as it has since 1935. Salesian Missions is an integral part of the Haitian infrastructure—operating schools, feeding programs and health clinics in the poorest areas. Many of the food and other relief items sent to Haiti were secured, stored and distributed using Salesian infrastructure and knowledge.

Salesian Missions is fully committed to rebuilding its educational infrastructure. Since 1935, Salesians have worked to educate Haiti’s most vulnerable youth and trained the best and brightest to become teachers.

See related articles:

Reading, Writing and Rebuilding a Country: Training Tomorrow’s Leaders in Haiti

One year later, what are some signs of progress in Haiti since the earthquake?

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