In the school yard of Collège Rémy Jean Lemec children and their parents gather waiting for CARE's psycho-social support team. They chat away as everyone knows each other.
The children, aged six to 12, also already know the CARE team coming today. Many of them attended psychological support sessions with their parents; others remember clowns visiting this camp a couple of weeks ago. The camp has been their home since the earthquake last January.
When Lesly Guerrier, Verlaine Fleurantus and Sophonie Mondélus of CARE’s psychosocial team arrive, the kids are suddenly happy to sit down and follow instructions.
The girls get to go first and form an orderly line. Some of them have a big grin on their faces, others radiate hope. Barbara Clervil is eight years old.
“I don’t know what is in this knapsack, but I would even be happy just having the sack itself so that I can finally go back to school.”
Many of the children agree, the knapsack is what’s most important. “It’s the same model they used to sell on the streets and in shops, but my mother never had the money to buy one. Now, finally, I have a beautiful new bag to go to school with”, explains 9-year old Angelène Cherestal.
Some of these kids started school in September, but many still have not been able to. Many parents cannot afford tuition fees, books, pencils, school uniforms and a rucksack to carry materials. Especially after losing their belongings in the earthquake.
Angenica Romulus is just six years old. She goes to school, learns to write and possesses perfect elocution when she introduces herself; quite remarkable for a child this young. She has one feature that distinguishes her from the other children: only three fingers on each hand.
“I was born like this”, she explains. “I had a twin whom I gave my other fingers, but she died.” Angenica is proud to show us how well she can hold a pencil and the neat circles and squares she can draw.
For many children, this bag represents nothing less than a bright, brand new future. Olson Tillien is 12 years old and he plans to paint pictures of beautiful boats with his new drawing kit. ”I enjoy being on a boat, I love the sea, fishing and feeling the air running through my fingers. I will draw pictures of that and sell them at Christmas so that I can buy myself a toy. I would love an electric one.”
“I have never seen so many happy kids in one place”, says Johnny Colt, an American journalist who witnessed the distribution.