Helping surviving students, parents following tragic school collapse in Haiti

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Nov. 9, 2008) - Save the Children staff members, including psychologists and social workers, are working diligently to assist surviving students and their parents following the collapse of a school Friday morning near the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.

The collapse, which took place while school was in session, killed at least 92 people and injured more than 150. Most of those killed and injured were students.

"Save the Children has organized an around-the-clock rotation of psychologists and social workers for both parents and children at the p;school collapse p;site to support the government's civil protection agency and Haitian Red Cross efforts," said Lee Nelson, the agency's country director in Haiti.

"We are also sending our workers to the six hospitals treating victims to provide counseling as needed. We have delivered water, fruit juices, and critical rescue items such as gloves, masks, and boots. We will continue to provide water and other requested items for rescue workers through the remainder of the weekend," Nelson said.

Save the Children also is moving quickly to deliver essential medicines and medical supplies through the Haitian Red Cross to hospitals treating injured children and teachers.

Rescue efforts continued late into Saturday night. Authorities reported that 100 to 200 students could still be trapped inside the school, known as College La Promesse Evangelique and located in Petionville, not far from the Haitian capital.

"The school is very close to our office in Petionville," said Nelson. "Moments after the school collapsed on Friday morning, we received a call from the owner of a hotel, adjacent to the school, asking for advice on whom to contact. Our staff members immediately called local authorities as well as the UN Mission. Save the Children employees did not have children in the school, but at least one of our staff knew three high school students who died in the collapse."

The school had an estimated 700 students enrolled, from first grade through high school. At the time of the collapse, the school was conducting a special event that had attracted parents and friends of students to the school.


Save the Children has worked in Haiti since 1985 providing community-based development programs and reinforcing government social services in child protection, education, health, food security, and humanitarian relief.

Save the Children (www.savethechildren.org) is the leading, independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. Save the Children USA is a member of the International Save the Children Alliance, a global network of 28 independent Save the Children organizations working to ensure the well-being and protection of children in more than 100 countries.