A volunteer from Oranmore is among a group of 35 who will travelling to Haiti this weekend. Haven, a prominent Irish NGO working on the ground in Haiti, is undertaking its twelfth volunteer trip to Haiti and Jan Gottsche from Oranmore is setting off on this life-changing experience with Haven’s 2018 Volunteer Programme.
This year’s Volunteer Programme sees the group travel to the small commune of Gressier, located two hours south-west of Haiti’s capital, Port au Prince. The Volunteer Programme will play an important role in supporting the people of Gressier, who are still working to rebuild their lives after the devastating earthquake in 2010.
Volunteers such as Jan will lead the refurbishment and upgrade of the main building of the local Jean Jean School, which has six classrooms and serves 160 children. The enhancement of the school facilities will ensure local children have access to education that will lead to bright, self-sufficient futures.
Over the course of their time in Haiti, Haven’s volunteers will work together to replace the school roof, and repair and plaster the walls of the buildings that were badly damaged by the 2010 earthquake. The team of volunteers will also repair the kitchen on the school grounds and build a covered area for children to eat in and enjoy shelter from the searing afternoon heat. The construction of a new toilet block will greatly improve the school’s facilities, ensuring clean sanitation and good health for its students.
In addition to the construction element of the programme, the team will provide equipment and furniture to enable improved learning and education. These include new bookshelves, blackboards and desks to enrich the school experience and make it more engaging for students. The volunteers will also create a safe area for children to play with the development of a colourful and interactive playground.
Mr Gottsche is lookign forwrar to the trip and being able to play a part in normalising the lives of those affected by the quake.
“This is my first time volunteering with Haven in Haiti. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to spend time in Haiti, learning more about and helping to overcome the challenges its people continue to face.
“The Volunteer Programme will focus on the refurbishment of a local school in Gressier, and I’m looking forward to getting involved and making a difference in the lives of people there,” he said.
Leslie Buckley, Founder and Chairman of Haven, said that every year, volunteers find this programme to be an incredibly fulfilling and rewarding challenge.
“Volunteers embrace the experience, getting to know the local people who will benefit from their hard work and making a deep impact which will last for many years to come.
“This year, our volunteers will immerse themselves in and make a positive influence on the area of Gressier, which was close to the epicentre of the 2010 earthquake.
“Every year, their commitment and generosity of time leaves a lasting legacy. Over 1,400 Irish and international volunteers have volunteered with Haven since 2009: each and every town in Ireland should be proud of the volunteers for their humanitarian efforts in Haiti,” he said.