Some days are special

And last Thursday was one of them.  On that day we fulfilled a dream . . . and a promise. Two years ago, we decided that we wanted to build one or more schools in Northern Haiti to help the children.  Thursday, we dedicated the first of those schools.

This is supposed to be a blog about ALLURE OF THE SEAS and I get great satisfaction from being involved in such a complicated and successful project.  But I also get a great sense of satisfaction and fulfillment from the small project of developing a school for Haiti’s children and their parents.  And since this is my blog, I get to share some of my joy.

In the early days of the project, preparations were moving along but too slowly for my taste. Then, almost exactly a year ago today, it got a boost when President Clinton visited Labadee with us as part of his efforts to help Haiti’s moribund economy. President Clinton and his Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) not only applauded the economic contribution our facility provided Haiti, but also encouraged our plan for the school.  The pace picked up until disaster struck in the form of a horrific earthquake.  Our efforts shifted to immediate relief including delivering over 3,000 pallets of relief supplies.

But the future beckoned and over the long term, Haiti’s future belongs to its children. The construction had to get started.  We assigned the construction task to John Weis who heads our private destinations and shore programs; and the education program to Maryse Kedar who heads up our relations with Haiti.  Maryse’s ProDev foundation has been devoted to education in Haiti since 1996 and established 21 tent schools in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake.

Which brings us to Thursday. Thursday, we dedicated the school. Thursday, we fulfilled a dream and a promise.  Thursday, we cried and we laughed.

Thursday, about 100 representatives from the community, the government, and the people involved with the project gathered with the children on the school grounds.  The setting is magnificent; simply breathtaking.  The school is located on a mountain ridge overlooking the deep, blue waters of Haiti’s rugged coastline.  The image is like a picture postcard of a beautiful Caribbean resort.  And the campus itself complements the view.  The campus is divided into six buildings that include 12 classrooms, a computer lab, administrative offices, etc.

The buildings are designed to be sympathetic to the local architecture while providing natural cross ventilation and efficient classroom spaces. The buildings fan out from the center courtyard to provide a sense of intimacy while preserving the privacy each class needs.  It also had to meet the needs of small children during the day and adults later on. Providing food and water to the students also needed to be factored in.

Certainly, Haiti needs more such private investment. Only  9% of the Haitian budget goes to education, which is a small percentage of a very small budget.  As a result, only 12% of non-public elementary schools and 5% of secondary schools get any government subsidies, and only 8% of students who start first grade complete schooling without interruption.

But the stars of Thursday’s event were the children.  We had speeches, of course, and everyone listened politely while the dignitaries expressed the important sentiments and thanked those who had worked so hard to make this happen.  But the kids absolutely stole the show.  With little opportunity to prepare, they sang their own welcome.  Two hundred and thirty young voices really brought home to all of us why this was so important.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the house (actually courtyard).

Making this happen took a lot of effort by a lot of people.  John Weis and Maryse Kedar took the lead throughout and my appreciation of all they did is immeasurable.  The buildings themselves were built by InnoVida who prefabricated the panels in Miami then transported them to Haiti onboard our ships. Fifty Haitian workers erected the structures in only 5 weeks.  I must also express our appreciation to President Clinton and his CGI who encouraged us from the beginning and whose support was an important element in our success.  His personal commitment to Haiti is noteworthy and laudable

I have attached some pictures of the event and the campus.  It is worth noting that all the parents are asked to pay tuition.  We wanted them to have a tangible part of the project and while the amount is small — $5 per month — it is important.

Some days are special.

John Weis, me and our new students

An aerial view of the campus.

 

L'Ecole Nouvelle Royal Caribbean

Smiling Faces

The students

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23 Responses to “Some days are special”

  1. Irene Simas - MA says:

    I am SO Proud of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.
    THIS should be in the News!

    [Reply]

  2. hankidic says:

    I really love the RCI brand, but was it necessary to brand all of the kids?

    [Reply]

    ChipLONDON Reply:

    Please, this is not branding, it is the name of the school, even I can remember that my school uniform had the name of my school onit, and therefore if the school proudly carries a Crown and Anchor as its logo, that is more than fair in my eyes. Well done Royal that is a great job well done.

    [Reply]

    Christian Reply:

    Yes it is branding. Royal carribbean could have very easly named the school something else. All this is is a publicity stunt. People gave them crap about still going to haiti after the earthquake so they decided to build the school so people will get off their back. If i owned royal carribbean i would be doing much more for the people of haiti and i would do it with out people knowing. That is all i have to say and if u want to tlk more about it email me Christianreilly11@yahoo.com. Thank you

    [Reply]

  3. carp says:

    Maybe you ought to ask the children that question? A new set of clothes might be very much appreciated after all they have and are still going through in Haiti. Smiles on the kids faces don’t seem to be saying anything about where the shirt/pants came from. Keep up the great work RCI…..on your great cruise ships and your community efforts. It shows to me RCI really cares, especially the supplies brought via Labadee right after the earthquake.

    [Reply]

    hankidic Reply:

    Yes, RCI is doing an excellent job in Haiti.

    [Reply]

  4. Rick Morgan says:

    Chairman Fain,

    Congratulations on your work in Haiti! I know that charity work helps balance my life. I hope you find the same balance and peace. Is there any place we should donate to help you guys with your charity work?

    Please consider helping us out. These calendars would make for a good gift for your employees or management team. If you wanted to purchase more than 100 calendars, Mr. King would cut the price for you, and my not for profit would still get a donation!!! Our goal is to get 400 units ordered so that these calendars can go to print.

    Miami’s Ed King has partnered with not-for-profits and charity organizations this year with the. “Calendars for a Cause” 2011 calendar. For every calendar sold, Mr. King will donate $4.00 to the charity of the buyer’s choice. Calendars are only $20.00 each and make for great holiday gifts or office gifts. Help Ed, help others. Your donations can make a difference. Purchase your calandar today at http://www.edkingpopart.com/boutique.cfm?cat=4&subcat=76&id=263
    People In Crisis United hopes that you will consider buying a calendar in support of us. You can also get there by going to http://www.edkingpopart.com and hit the boutique link and then go to the nick nacks hyperlink. We would love the idea of our calendar hanging in your offices. These would make for great gifts for your employees at Royal Caribbean or for your Foundation employees or for your Crown & Anchor society…

    People In Crisis United is a not for profit, private organization that was founded by clinicians working to improve the quality of life for children and their families while in the hospital. We are excited that Ed King has partnered up with us. He has donated many pieces of artwork to our organization and also time. It is really uplifting to see Mr. King work with the hospitalized kids. Mr. Ed King can be reached by phone (786) 553 4528 or email edkingart@mac.com. You can find out more about our organization by searching for us on Facebook.

    Thanks so much,

    Rick Morgan, RRT

    People In Crisis United,

    Coordinator and Vice President

    2630 SW 28th St, Unit 18

    Coconut Grove, Fl 33133

    (786) 543 9286.

    [Reply]

  5. ChipLONDON says:

    Hey Richard here is an idea for you,
    Please sell the school shirts (in a different colour, so no one can pretend to be a sudent ) on board the ships, that would be a great way to raise ongoing funds for the school, I know that I would buy one, and I am sure many others would as well. Many people on board have purchased the “Make a Wish” shirts, so now it is time for cruisers to get behind the school.

    [Reply]

  6. dominiquelavigueur says:

    Please, let’s just think POSITIVE in all and every aspects of this project.
    Everybody involved must be thanked, and the children and parents must be very proud.
    Everything new from walls, to books to uniforms to energy!!
    Their beautiful smiles say it all
    Congrats to all, long life to the school program!

    [Reply]

  7. Steven Balavender says:

    Very nice project….congrats!!!

    [Reply]

  8. Elizanessie says:

    Thank you Richard for these pics and information on the new school.
    The International Critters who are all members of Cruise Critic, are bringing some school supplies on 12/1 & 12/5 Allure sailings for this new school and they were delighted to see these wonderful pics.
    Keep up the good work RCCL.

    [Reply]

  9. Marlene says:

    What a beautiful school! What beautiful smiles! What beautiful uniforms! What a wonderful idea and accomplishemt !
    I am sure Maryse Kedar helped with the curriculum and the recruiting of teachers and other staff. Were you able to find people from the area? Do they all stay on campus or do some of them live nearby and commute daily? Are the books in French and Creole.
    Finally, have you considered “uplifting/upgrading” a local High School, the Lycee Philippe Guerrier of Cap-Haitian, for example? (Just a few things to think about.)
    Keep up the great work! Merci. Mèsi. (I know you can’t answer all my questions)

    [Reply]

  10. I that its great that Royal Caribbean built the school for the kids in Haiti.

    [Reply]

  11. Kathi Borthwick says:

    Wow I would like to be involved with this. I am a retired early childhood educator who specialized in early literacy and I truly believe the ket to helping Haiti is through education of the children.What do you need and how can passengers be of assistance? Do you need books and supplies? Just fabulous and I love Royal Caribbean! Kathi

    [Reply]

  12. Esther Prince says:

    Besides being a travel agent, I belong to my local Women’s Club. I am the Chairlady for the International Committee. We are looking for a charity to help. While on your website today to help one of my clients, I spotted your info re Haiti. This would be a good project for us here in the South Florida Area. Please let me know if and what we can do to help. Do you have someone who would come and speak at a meeting?

    [Reply]

  13. Antiques says:

    Im glad I stumbled onto it. Have a good day And Check me out

    [Reply]

  14. Steve Eberhard says:

    Dear Mr. Fain,

    I was just recectly hired(this past week) by Royal Caribbean International as an Entertainment Technician/Rigging specialist aboard the MS Liberty of the Seas.

    I came across this amazing story(building of the school facility in Haiti) while surfing our web site. Fifteen years ago I decided to sponsor a child from Haiti through the Christian organization COMPASSION INT. Her name is Phoenancia Saint Telmy, she should be around 23 years old now.

    After checking the ship’s itinarairy, I see we travel to Haiti. I want you to know how proud I am to be employed by a company with such compassion for children, especially poor children, and I am looking forward to being a part of such worthy cause.

    I also look forward to my sign on date (Dec. 26 2010) and the opportunity to work for Your amazing Company.

    With Kind Regards,

    Steve Eberhard
    RCI Rigging Specialist

    [Reply]

  15. bjorn jakobsen says:

    cruisebjorn says Thi is good,we were in porto prince in 1980 with m/v song of norway, and even on
    that time rccl (old name) gave help to thepeople of haiti

    thanks again Vesla & bjorn

    [Reply]

  16. Carol and Heather says:

    Hi,
    We are returning in April to cruise on Allure of the Seas (3rd time since maiden cruise) and would love to bring along new clothing items for the children on the island of Haiti. Who would we contact in regards to transfering these items to the children.
    Carol and Heather

    [Reply]

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