A new book, richly illustrated with photographs, highlights Laurent Salvador Lamothe’s journey and challenges as former Prime Minister of Haiti. The book, with a preface by Sean Penn, and introduction by the photo-journalist, Phillip Holsinger, is published in four languages, English, Creole, French and Spanish. The poignant photographs capture Lamothe’s passion and compassion for the people of Haiti.
The book is a record of two years in Haiti – observing its development: schools, stadiums, hospitals, highways, bridges, social programmes, flood works, new, clean, municipal markets and the many faces of the people of Haiti.
The Haitian Ministry of Education estimated that 43,992 schools were affected by the earthquake—23% were either damaged or completely destroyed. Lamothe and his government realised that they needed to identify new sources of revenue through innovative financing mechanisms – espeically for education. All the available revenue streams in the country were evaluated and a micro-contribution on all money transfers into the country from the millions of Haitians living abroad (diaspora) was quickly implemented. This and a micro contribution on international telephone calls coming into the country enabled the funding of the most comprehensive free educational programme the country had ever seen.
The Free and Universal Education for All Programme (PSUGO) was born.
As many as 72 schools were built and free, quality education provided for 1.4 million children. In some cases homeless children were accommodated in boarding schools and elementary school attendance rose from 55% to 90%.
PSUGO reached out to pupils who had either never had the opportunity to attend school or who had lost their school in the earthquake. Since the right to education is set out in Haiti’s Constitution, the philosophy was to provide education to all—but especially to the disadvantaged. PSUGO was a means to reduce the burden of paying for schooling for parents whose standard of living had been reduced to extreme poverty as a result of the earthquake. The free meal provided for children at school was also a means of assisting the families and alleviating poverty.
The PSUGO programme was a beacon of hope for the survivors. Most importantly, the Haitian people were being assisted by the government at a time of destruction and dire need and when they lacked the resources to look after themselves.
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