About the School
History of the School
Our Lady of Perpetual Help School was founded by Ertha Papillon in 1997. As a Haitian mother, teacher and nurse, Ertha saw a great need for a school in the area of Trou-Bois. Many children would walk around the area without shoes, during the time when school was in session in nearby villages. This meant that their parents could not afford to send them to a school in a nearby area. If parents cannot afford shoes, uniforms, books and tuition, children do not go to any school in Haiti.
She decided to open her home to the children for an hour of play each day....and found a way to provide shoes for all the children. Through interacting with these children, she felt strongly that they needed to be in school.
Thus, in June of 1997, Ertha started Our Lady of Perpetual Help school in her home. Thirty-seven children ages 2-16 would come to her home for one hour each day and would sit on the floor and benches to begin learning math, the alphabet, how to read, etc. Ertha provided an opportunity for growth!
In 1999, Ertha gathered up enough funds to pour a cement slab near her home that would be used for the school. One day a man passed by her home and saw the change she was trying to make in the children's lives and wanted to make a contribution to the school. With the help of his 25,000 Gourdes' donation, the help of the parents in providing supplies for building the school, and the partnership with the Pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Church (Naperville, IL), the school structure was completed with six classrooms.
Ertha, along with one assistant, began teaching the children in the new school building! As time went on, funds from St. Thomas were used to acquire more teachers. By the second year of the school being opened, there were 87 students enrolled which brought hope to everyone in Trou-Bois! Within three years there were approximately 300 students!
After the Earthquake: Jan 2010
Prior to the Earthquake of 2010, the school taught pre-school and grades 1-6 for more than 300 students. The Earthquake destroyed 1 in 5 schools in Haiti. Our Lady of Perpetual Help was not destroyed. The Haitian government requested that Ertha take on an additional 300 students from schools that were destroyed. The government agreed to pay for the additional teachers salaries. Many teachers donated their time and did not receive salaries, as no additional funding was received. The school now had 600 students, pre-school thru grade 6 in 6 classrooms....divided between morning and afternoon sessions-no lunches.
In 2012 Ertha was heard on Haiti's local media, and a member of the Ministry had heard Ertha and wanted to speak to hear about the school situation. The Ministry had funds for rebuilding that allowed Ertha to build six additional classrooms to her school. This addition was complete in 2013, but there were no funds allocated for things such as benches, books, desks or teachers. Teachers began to leave due to non-payment of their salaries.
The enrollment in 2014 was 260 students with reduced staff. The school continued to struggle to pay teachers salaries, school supplies, and funds for food. The school continued to have a 100% pass rate of all students who took the national exam! A great achievement!
After the Hurricane: Oct 2016
Hurricane winds of 145mph travelling at 5mph made landfall in Trou-Bois area on Oct 4, 2016. The original school building had the roof blown off and books were completely destroyed. Desks and blackboards were damaged and in need of repair; some not usable at all. The Hurricane devastated all of this area....blowing roofs off of homes, washing away all crops (farming being the livelihood of the parents), destroying their meager belongings inside their homes...clothing, beds, food, etc. The need for clean, safe drinking water was more evident as the threat of cholera, dysentery, etc. was a result of this destruction. A student and his father were buried the next day as their house collapsed on them. The 2nd newer school building was used as a temporary emergency shelter for 200 people who lost their roofs.
Now: School is reopened, hope is being restored. Parents are in need of seeds to replant their gardens to reap within 3 months. Some parents received goats from a French Organization. Some mothers with young children now have the means to give clean, safe water to their children and 3 other families in need due to the generosity of Water With Blessings. In Dec 2016, WWB delivered 5-gallon water buckets with water filters that would filter dirty water for 10 plus years without changing the filter!
Needs: Funds towards books and tuition as parents right now do not have the means of making a livelihood until their gardens are planted and harvested. They need a little help to keep their hope alive.
Meet the Children
We have recently asked a few children from the school to tell us a little bit about themselves. To read more about these children, click on their photos below.
Meet the Students