Wednesday 1 March 2017

Darline Pierre, 18-year-old girl, has just started coming back to school after Hurricane Matthew. It has been four months since the hurricane shook up her ordinary life. Her school reopened in November but most students have been out of school due to heavy rains that continued throughout the month. As of today, many children still haven't returned to their school yet as their families have not been able to rebuild their destroyed houses and livelihoods. "It's very hard not to be able to see my best friends back in school. They live far away up in the mountain and might not come back until next January", she says.

Children lost their school uniforms, textbooks, and backpacks during the hurricane. As families have lost most of their assets and means of livelihoods are severely affected, continuation of education has been compromised. Without having their uniforms and school materials, children tend rather not to go to school. However, Darline is a strong and resilient girl saying, "I am not wearing my uniform which I never had even before the hurricane, but I don't mind it as I like coming to school more than anything". She says her school equipment and materials have been lost and now students are using photocopied textbooks. She walks two hours every day to come to school with empty stomach and another twohour-journey to fetch water once she is back home. Darline is staying with her mother and two sisters at home while her brothers and youngest sister are staying with her aunt in Port au Prince as her mother couldn't afford taking care of all of her children. Her step father is often away staying with his another family and doesn't work to support the family. Darline's family is now surviving on the fallen corns from the small garden that her mother used to grow before it was ruined, but can't afford to buy seeds to re-plant.

Darline is worried and says, "I don't know how my family will get through this hard time as the hurricane took everything away from us - our clothes, food, and my school materials". Although she seems to find a joy from school where she can continue to learn and participate in psychosocial support programmes supported by Save the Children. "I wish I will be able to stay at school until I finish my study. I want to become a doctor so that everyone in my village can access health services."

Head master of Ecole Nationale de Moulines says, "Darline has been adapting very well since she transferred to our school. Despite her family condition, I recognise her as a student with high potential. I know that she will achieve something great one day". He also adds, "After hurricane, 3 teachers out of 9 have not returned as the Ministry of Education haven't paid the teachers for several months. One of the remaining teachers has been teaching nearly for three years without receiving any compensation but with passion for education" and "Majority of children are coming to school skipping meals and they are too hungry to concentrate on classes with empty belly all day".

Too Hungry to Study - Unmet Needs of Children: Food, Health, and Protection

Etien Bertho (16) didn't have anything for breakfast this morning before he came to school. "If I'm lucky I might find something to eat on my way back home", he smiles. Etien has not been able to take proper meals and had to skip school last Friday due to a terrible headache. "The day I was absent in school my friends received student kits distributed by Save the Children. Unfortunately, I missed it and I was disappointed. But I'm happy that I'm back to school. I wish my friends in my village will also be able to come back to school very soon".

In fact, according to the Emergency Food Security Assessment (EFSA) conducted by WFP and the National Centre for Food Security (CNSA), there is a growing concern over food insecurity as farming remains undermined due to lack of seeds and prolonged debris clearance. Approximately 806,000 people were experiencing severe food insecurity after the hurricane and a high risk of malnutrition amongst vulnerable groups has increased, especially for children under five and pregnant and lactating women. It was found that households spent an average of 50% of their income on food and the majority of households reported that they are engaging in negative coping strategies to respond to their food needs.