UPDATE: Much-needed supplies set sail for Haitian school

A 40-foot naval shipping container packed with everything from desks and chalkboards to computers and microscopes is steaming off to Lycee Jean-Baptiste Cineas, a school in Limbe, Haiti that is in desperate need of supplies. Thanks to the generosity of McGill and members of its community, students will return to a very different school when they go back to class in the fall.
Education professor Beverly Baker (in container) and Virginie St-Pierre of Facilities Operations and Development, load donated furniture and school supplies into a naval shipping container on August 13. The supplies are destined for Lycee Jean-Baptiste Cineas, a school in Limbe, Haiti. / Photo: Owen Egan

By Neale McDevitt

When the 2,000 students of Lycee Jean-Baptiste Cineas in Limbe, Haiti return to class this fall they may not recognize their school. Where they used to squeeze four or five students on a single rough bench, they’ll now have rows of individual desks. Where once they had few material goods, they’ll now have computers and microscopes to work with. Where they once had precious few recreational resources, they’ll now have basketballs, soccer balls and running shoes.

The extreme makeover will be courtesy of McGill and the generous members of its community. In an initiative spearheaded by Education professor Beverly Baker, much-needed supplies were collected carefully packed in a 40-foot maritime container this past Monday and Tuesday. The container will set sail for Haiti on Friday.

Included in the precious cargo is 65 desks for students; 55 chairs; 22 tables; 30 microscopes; 30 boxes of books; 65 boxes of school supplies; 10 used computers; 10 VCRs; four DVD players; five filing cabinets; three large chalkboards; three digital cameras; two sewing machines and a box of digital recorders.

“I was amazed at how much we could fit into the container,” said Baker, who had run some professional development workshops at the school this past December. “It was a success on so many levels. Faculty and staff from the four corners of the campus came with donations – from Enrolment Services to the Principal’s Office, from Engineering to Linguistics, from Medicine to Physical Education. I had to turn away volunteers because there were so many.”

Most of the furniture was secondhand McGill property, still eminently useable but collecting dust in storage space after being replaced during renovations of classrooms. Members of the McGill community also opened their hearts to the cause, donating a wide variety of items that will be put to good use at Jean-Baptiste Cineas. “Finding furniture and other donations was the easy part. There was more than we could take,” said Baker.

On the other hand, raising money for the shipment continues to be a challenge says Baker, who has had to cover a large portion of the cost personally.  To make a tax-deductible donation, go here and click on “donate now” and the container fund for Haiti will be visible.