by Anne Edgerton
ChildFund Disaster Management Team Leader
During my three weeks in Haiti, I’ve been working with Marie Marthe, an employee of the Centre d’Education Special (CES), to set up Child Centered Spaces. CES works with children who need special education and provides a variety of services based on the child’s age and disability.
The earthquake destroyed the CES building, and it will have to be rebuilt. ChildFund is supporting the establishment of Child Centered Spaces and the eventual reconstruction of the CES building. During this transition time, Marie Marthe is adapting her normal work to become coordinator of the Child Centered Spaces.
Marie Marthe started working for CES 22 years ago, so I asked her a bit about her job. “My first day, I said to myself, ‘This is for me!’ From the first moment, I loved it. I’d never seen such children, and it was the perfect environment in the CES classes for their development and care.”
Marie Marthe trained as an early childhood specialist while teaching, and eventually she began training new teachers at CES. She is proud of the 10 integrated schools that CES operates in partnership with the Haitian government to make sure that children of different learning abilities are cared for and can reach their full potential.
I asked Marie Marthe how the earthquake affected her and her family, “It was a surprise. No one knew it would happen. We lost a lot of people, and we love life, so to lose someone is very hard for us.”
But rather than recount the details of her personal losses, she prefers to focus on gratitude for the international response to Haiti. “I am so thankful to the world for bringing us help. I have no idea how we could have recovered without such attention, especially for the children. I am especially thankful to the children of Holland who sent the drawings for our centers.”
A nurse who worked for CBM in Haiti just after the earthquake delivered the drawings from Holland, and they now brighten our first Child Centered Space.
Haiti is living through an overwhelming disaster that will require years of recovery. Yet, by working with dedicated people like Marie Marthe, we can help the most vulnerable survivors.
To support ChildFund’s efforts in Haiti, click here.