Vaccination sparks new hope in a Haitian school
Marc Antoine Withney is the principal and main teacher at the Salen Mixed Instruction Center, an elementary school in one poorest neighborhoods of Port-of-Prince, Haiti’s capital. Like the small houses surrounding it, the school was severely affected by the January 2010 earthquake. But two years after the disaster, the 35-year-old Haitian was able–through his own efforts and with international help–to partially reconstruct his little school, restoring hope and opportunities to learn to more than 400 children living nearby.
The Salen Mixed Instruction Center still needs more help to finish rebuilding. But Withney didn’t think twice before opening his school’s doors to Haiti’s intensive child-health drive, converting the modest facility into a vaccination center where children also get vitamin A supplementation and antiparasitic drugs.
“It’s really important to raise awareness in the whole community so they will get involved in this campaign,” says Withney. “In this place, there are a lot of needs, and one of the most important is that children get vaccinated to prevent disease.”
Surrounded by mothers and fathers who have brought their sons and daughters to get vaccinated against polio, measles, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria and other vaccine-preventable diseases, Withney watches with pride as children laugh and cry, knowing that the seed he is helping to plant will mean a healthier and more hopeful future for Haiti and its children.