03/30/2012 11:06 am ET Updated May 30, 2012

Jesuit Refugee Service Supports New Pre-School in Haiti (PHOTOS)

A two-year commitment and $225,000 from Jesuit Refugee Service/USA is enabling a new preschool in Fond Parisien, Haiti, to provide education, and nutritious meals, to more than 195 students.

A group of Catholic nuns from the Carmelitas de La Caridad de Vedruna order had been providing the service to 60 children, but with the help of JRS they've been able to expand the educational program. Classes were once held in the community chapel, but the new school just outside of the town center opened last September. In addition to the classroom block, a latrine was built, and a well for fresh water. 

Jesuit Refugee Service supports pre-school in Haiti

Fond Parisien is located only about one and a half hours from the Haitian capital of Port au Prince, and saw an influx of displaced families from the capital following the January 2010 earthquake.

"When we began thinking about this project we realized there was no preschool; schooling began here at the elementary level. They were forgetting about the most basic education. We saw a gap," said Sr. Nuria, one of the school founders.

"Many of these children would have no access to education without this project. The schools that do exist are too expensive. At the state level, there is no such thing as preschool. Preschools only exist thanks to organizations and foundations," said Sr. Camilla de Jesus, a member of the school's director office.

"Student fees here are roughly the equivalent of $12 per year," said Sr. Camilla. "Other preschools have a monthly fee that is much higher. If families have trouble paying they can discuss it with us and exceptions are made. Parents can share other goods or services with the school; we have a very collaborative relationship with the parents."

"School isn't just for today, it is an investment in the future. We hope the community in the coming years will see their standard of living rise and that life in the community improves. That was always the vision of the project, not just to give something, but to enable the people to build something for themselves," said Sr. Nuria.

Learn more on the Jesuit Refugee Service/USA website.

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