rkd retail/iQ

corporate social responsibility

hand in hand for haiti


On January 12, 2010, a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti just 10 miles west of its capital and largest city, Port-au-Prince. At least 230,000 people died; 500,000 were injured; countless survivors are in critical condition; and 1.5 million people were left homeless. Behind all the heartbreaking statistics of one of the worst humanitarian disasters on record are proud, strong people with a spirit of perseverance and hope - values that have defined Haiti since it was founded.


This horrific disaster is a shocking testament to both the uncontrollable force of nature and the courage of the Haitian people. Since its discovery in 1492 by Christopher Columbus, Haiti's history tells of a truly resilient people who fought off slavery, survived civil wars, endured countless massacres and tolerated truly oppressive leadership. The Haitians proclaimed themselves the first black republic in the world in 1804 and have remained independent to this day.


In the aftermath of this disaster, leaders in the travel retail industry are partnering with Hand in Hand for Haiti as part of a pan-industry initiative to make a bold and compassionate response through designing, building and operating a new sustainable school. The state-of-the-art complex will offer accessible education from kindergarten to 13th grade, in an area of great need, the Commune of Saint-Marc, which took on 32,000 refugees after the earthquake and is strategically situated between two major fault lines. This offers its people protection from devastations that hurricane winds bring with them.

The project is being overseen by a steering committee comprising The Est”e Luader Companies Travel Retailing Worldwide President Olivier Bottrie, DFS Chairman Ed Brennan, The Moodie Report Founder & Publisher Martin Moodie.

In addition, Hand in Hand for Haiti Foundation was formed to be the acting entity to operate the school. Founding members include a prominent Haitian lawyer, Maitre Jean-Frederic Sales, a local and influential businessman, Mr. Peter Frisch, who co-owns a printing and publishing Company, Maison Henri Deschamps. Ms. Caroline Sada former ELC employee in TR Americas, and Olivier Bottrie are the other two founding members. Mr. Peter Frisch is its Executive President.


The recent devastation in Haiti has acted as a clarion call for international action and assistance. Leaders in the travel retail industry are answering the call, responding with compassion and a bold long-term strategy for the future of Haiti.

Education is the single most important determinant of and individual's potential to escape poverty in Haiti. High-quality education in a world-class school is key to the growth, strength and long-term recovery of Haiti and vital to the spirit and independence of its people. Working as partners with the local government in the Commune of Saint-Marc, and other leaders in the travel retail industry, Hand in Hand for Haiti is embarking on an ambitious and essential plan to finance, build and run a landmark school that will be accessible to all children and provide excellence at every level of education.


- Less than 50% Haitian children have access to education.
- Only 2% of students obtain a high school diploma.
- 55% of Haitians are illiterate.
- 80% live below the poverty line.

The Hand in Hand for Haiti school will start at age three nursery level and end at baccalaureate level. At full capacity, the school will have 720 students. Education will be trilingual, following best-in-class academic standards for French - English instruction and aligning with the national Haitian academic curriculum. Instruction in French and English will start as early as age three and segue into the 16-year Haitian curriculum starting in 1st grade. French, English and Creole will be taught to ensure fluency at the end of the "Ecole Fondamentarie" level (9th grade in the Haitian system.) The ultimate goal is to achieve a 100% success rate at the Haitian baccalaureate exams and 90% at the French baccalaureate exams, giving students a strong foundation of knowledge and skills essential to success in the 21st century.

In addition to providing superior academic instruction, the school will cultivate a unique culture. Socially responsible children, with a strong sense of civic pride and the desire to contribute to Haiti's future will be an indicator of its success. The aim is to mix students from different socio-cultural backgrounds while making the school accessible to all. Priority will be given to the children of refugees who moved to Saint-Marc after the earthquake, to residents of the Commune of Saint-Marc and to children not already enrolled in other schools. Tuition will be kept at a minimum and will be waived for the neediest students.

Building of the Hand in Hand campus will proceed in three phases. The project's first phase is projected to open on January 11, 2011 and will consist of 6 classes of 25 students each for a total of 150 students. Phase I will also include a clinic, pre-school classrooms, cafeteria, housing for the Director and teachers as well as a symbolic Tree of Hope. The second phase of the project will open in the second quarter of 2011 and will include a computer room, library, music facilities, teacher's housing as well as basketball courts and a soccer pitch. The final phase of the project will be the construction of the Secondary school which includes physics, chemistry, history and natural sciences buildings and will be built in 2015. The plan is add 50 students each year until the school reaches its capacity in 2023. When all phases are complete, a minimum of 50 teachers will be employed along with as many as 50 support positions. The school will also train teachers from surrounding schools and play a positive role in the economic development of the city.


Focusing on the training and encouragement needed to prepare students for fulfilling adult lives, this impressive state-of-the-art school complex will offer a full spectrum of educational resources from kindergarten through primary school. Built on a foundation of high academic standards, the school will boast a rich broad-based curriculum presented initially, by a faculty of 12 dedicated local and foreign teachers trained and experience in the most advanced educational methods.

Modern classroom environments will be designed to facilitate advanced teaching practices and reinforce student learning in a positive, well-equipped setting. A school library filled with essential reference materials, classic and contemporary literature and popular media will support high standards in education. An on-site medical clinic will provide basic health and psychological screening and assistance to those in need. Hand in Hand for Haiti will coordinate regular visits of MDs and DDSs to the school, including volunteers from the United States. A school cafeteria and kitchen will offer two well-balanced nutritious meals planned through consultation with trained nutritionists. Housing for the teachers and school director will be integrated into the complex, offering easy access to classrooms.

The school year will be extended through the summer to offer continuous learning opportunities, meals in addition to sports programs.

Several sports facilities will complement the academic setting, including a soccer field, track, basketball court and volleyball court. An athletic program will be developed to enhance the academic curriculum and many of the facilities will be shared with the local community, enabling the community of Saint-Marc to benefit.

The project was endorsed by the Haitian Minister of Education, Monsieur Joel Desrosiers Jean-Pierre, and also received strong support from the French Ambassador, Monsieur Didier le Bret, and his Attach” for Cooperation and Cultural Development, Monsieur Alain Sauval. The Ambassador deems the project the most important investment in the field of education outside of Port-au-Prince in the past 30 years.


The proposed hurricane-proof, anti-seismic educational complex will be located on 32 acres of land approximately 60 miles north of Port-au-Prince in the Artibonite district, just 2.5 miles north of the Commune of Saint-Marc. International property and construction firm Altus Page Kirkland (APK) has generously donated its services and time to serve as project management and cost management consultants. They will manage the delivery of the educational complex to ensure the project meets all standards of quality, timelines are being met, costs are within budget as well as supervise the on-site work by the local contractors of Saint Marcs. The entire commune counts 282,000 inhabitants and received 32,000 refugees after the earthquake. It counts 80,000 school-age children of which only 52% have access to education and attend one of the 91 schools in the district. Saint-Marc has four community colleges and schools for healthcare, banking, computer science, as well as a small law school and engineering school.

Founded in April of 1695, Saint-Marc is a coastal, port town western Haiti. The port of Saint-Marc is the preferred port of entry for consumer goods coming into Haiti making it a strategic location for the received and transport of building materials and school supplies. Reasons for this include its location away from volatile and congested Port-au-Prince, as well as its central location relative to a large group of Haitian cities including Gonaives, Montrouis, and Port-au-Prince.

These Cities, together with their surrounding areas, contain nearly eight million of Haiti's ten million people (2009). The decision to build the complex in Saint-Marc is an effort to contribute to the development in Haiti beyond the congested and overpopulated Port-au-Prince. In addition, Saint-Marc offers great potential from a tourism and agricultural view.


Construction materials will be selected, as much as possible, to ensure they meet "environment-friendly" standards. The school will optimize the use of renewable energy (solar) in addition to traditional energy sources (grid with invertors, generators). A minimum of 21 acres of land will be replanted with indigenous trees and a school garden could be considered to grow fruits and vegetables to be used in the school kitchen. The school curriculum will emphasize the need to protect the environment and to consider that the economic development of Haiti must be assessed through the long-term sustainability lens.


Along with basic need - such as food water, shelter, and first-aid supplies necessary after this disaster of epic proportions - education is essential to be the long-term recovery, rebuilding and future of Haiti. The Hand in Hand for Haiti School is both a symbol of the best of humanity through compassion and generosity on a global scale, as well as a sources of inspiration for the remarkable resilient, warm and beautiful people of Haiti. Every student who attends the school, every teacher who transforms a student's life, every individual and business that donates time, energy and money will carry with them the spirit of hope, the knowledge of doing something significant and promise and possibility of a new Haiti.

copyright © rkdretailiq.com. All right reserved.