REACH – Berette, Haiti
The community of Berette, 5th section of Cavailon, is located in southern Haiti about an hour’s drive from the buildOn office in Les Cayes (15 km). There are approximately 700 families (4200 people) living in Berette, which was founded in 1965. Catholic, Protestant and Voudou traditions are all practiced here. The leaders of this community are Pastor Leger Jean Alain and Miss Lolo, the local nurse.
The people of Berette are primarily farmers and gardeners. Some travel to the market to sell their goods- corn, sorghum, millet and mangos when in season. The climate is tropical, warm for most of the year with a rainy and a hurricane season. Berette is in the middle of a huge river valley, just a few hundred feet from the riverside. The closest medical clinic is Gros Marin, about 1 1⁄2 hours away on foot.
There are currently 200 students enrolled in school in Berette- 80 girls and 120 boys. Most are from Berette, but some walk from another community called Nan Mission, 4th section. The children are split into 13 classes- kindergarten through 12th grade. Before the completion of this school project a one room church was the only available indoor space for classes for all of these students. Many of the grades studied outside the church under an overhang, enclosed only by a tarp. There are 19 teachers and assistants working in Berette, all from the local community with varying degrees of formal training. Formal education has been available in Berette only since 2004.
Our School Project
The school block in Berette has 3 classrooms. The floor is poured concrete, the roof is corrugated metal, and the walls are made of cinderblocks reinforced with rebar to make them earthquake proof. This project was completed in just 8.5 weeks and became well known in the area because of the quick progress made by the great numbers of volunteers on the worksite.
The school was completed in June 2012 after community members contributed a total of 2,758 volunteer workdays to the project! Before beginning construction the people of Berette signed a covenant outlining the following responsibilities:
- Unskilled labor: 20 workers (10 women and 10 men) per day, six days per week
- Commitment to educating girls and boys equally
- The land on which the school will be built
- High quality local materials: sand, gravel, water & rocks
- Volunteer management committee made up of 12 villagers (six women, six men)
- Lodging for IAPW’s partner’s Field Coordinator and skilled laborers in local homes
- Basic construction tools when available (picks, buckets, etc.)
- Engineering and architecture
- Construction materials (excluding local materials) for school and latrine
- Skilled labor and plans needed to build the school
- Project management
- Instruction in basic construction techniques