Denis O’Brien – Building Schools in Haiti

Published: January 6, 2012

….On a recent sunny morning, [Denis O’Brien] presided over the opening of the 50th school that his vast telecommunications company, Digicel, has rebuilt since the quake struck in 2010 — and then he promptly pledged to build another 80 schools by 2014.

“I arrived at the foundation in late 2008, and all of a sudden it was, ‘We have to deliver a school by March because Denis O’Brien is coming,’ ” Mrs. Gauthier said.

“Then Denis arrived and said, ‘What a nice school. Let’s have 20 more, one in each department of Haiti, before the end of the year,’ ” she said. “That’s Denis.”

The foundation quickly realized, however, that simply putting up a school was not the answer. “Teachers are a catastrophe,” Mrs. Gauthier said. So Digicel began remedial teacher training and paying teachers when the Ministry of Education was late or checks went missing. And then there were textbooks and desks and myriad other things.

“I always thought building the schools would be the hard bit, because of the contracts involved and all that,” Mr. O’Brien said. “But the hard part is really about getting the community together to support the school and identifying the leaders and so many other things.”

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About fromourisland

Gardener, knitter, wife, mother of 2, grandmother, and lots more.
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