Thursday, August 07, 2008

SOPUDEP - A SCHOOL IN PERIL

this article was taken from the SOPUDEP website which quotes Kevin Site's "expose" on Yahoo.
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For several months now, a variety of characters have

appeared at the school to demand they vacate the premises. Some falsely stated they were descendants of the original owner but mostly it was an attempt to pressure the school by disrupting its normal operation. On Monday July 28, 2008, the Mayor of Petion-Ville, Lydie Clark Parent, delivered an eight (8) day eviction notice to SOPUDEP to vacate their school premises. This action is NOT legal as SOPUDEP has a 12-year lease on the property that expires in 2012. The school's rights under this contract were ultimately respected by the Mayor's office and the government of Latortue in 2004-2006 and has subsequently been recognized as valid by the Ministry of Education and the Preval administration.

On Tuesday, August 5, 2008, the SOPUDEP school will begin the procedure to file an injunction against Mayor Lydie Clark Parent and ask the court to uphold their binding 12-year lease at their current location. In an effort to show Mayor Parent and the Haitian court the importance of the SOPUDEP school, they ask that all people of goodwill and solidarity please write a letter expressing their support for the school and its more that 450 students. These letters will be critical to showing the wide-spread support SOPUDEP school has throughout the world in the coming days and weeks. Please take five minutes of your time as soon as possible and help save this wonderful resource for Haiti's poorest children in Petion-Ville, Haiti by writing a letter on their behalf today!

Background
Lionel Wooley was an assassin for the regimes of Papa Doc and Baby Doc Duvalier. In exchange for killing opponents of these repressive regimes in Haiti, he was allowed to steal the property of his victims and claim them as his own. In late 2000, Lionel Wooley died in exile in Miami and the government expropriated the properties he had stolen. Most were returned to the surviving members of the original victim’s families but a few had no known descendents. Among these few properties was a dilapidated mansion, burned and pillaged by an angry local community after the departure of Baby Doc. It is situated in the hills of Petion-Ville behind the Montana Hotel .

The property passed through Mayor Sulley Guriere of Petion-Ville, to SOPUDEP whose membership actively participates in the National Literacy Project. Although the literacy campaign is designed for adults 30-60, SOPUDEP was deeply affected by the number of school age children who attended classes as well. They were mostly children of the poor whose parents could not afford to send them to school and could not find a place for them in the over crowded classrooms of the already overwhelmed public schools system. For this reason SOPUDEP made a decision to turn the property into a school for the most vulnerable and poor children of Petion-Ville. The SOPUDEP team hired a lawyer and began the legal process for acquiring a long term lease of the property in 2000 as well as restructuring their organization to meet the requirements of the Haitian government to operate the school. SOPUDEP was given a 12-year lease on the property that expires in 2012 and was provided accreditation by the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Education to conduct a school at the facility.

Their initial enrollment totaled 160 but has now grown to over 480 as of the 2007/08 school year. It stands as a beautiful example of transforming a gruesome legacy of the past into a symbol of hope for the future.

Since its founding, the school also added a government funded hot lunch program to supplement the diet of their students and staff. For many it was their only meal of the day. When President Aristide was ousted in 2004, funding for the program ceased. That same year the school suffered threats of attack from militia groups and unelected officials. Thankfully, no harm was inflicted on them. SOPUDEP struggles each month to pay its staff and continue the hot lunch program that was reinstated in March of 2008. SOPUDEP is a wonderful example of a community initiative founded more on courage and love than money. They try not turn down any poor child of the community for lack of funds.

For further information about SOPUDEP school please visit:

-Kevin Site's expose of the school for Hotzones on Yahoo:
http://hotzone.yahoo.com/b/hotzone/blogs4095



SOPUDEP

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