PORT-AU-PRINCE (CMC): Students in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince are getting used to being back in class after gang violence closed their school for three years.
The Lycée National de La Saline, which reopened in January, is located in one of the poorest, most troubled and disadvantaged neighbourhoods of Port-au-Prince. Some 5,000 people live in La Saline.
It closed after five armed gangs attacked the neighbourhood on November 13 and 14, 2018, leaving 26 people dead. The youngest victim was just 10 months old and the oldest 72 years. In a report on the incident, the United Nations also said there were two cases of gang rape.
According to the report, residents of La Saline were “allegedly targeted for their supposed affiliation to rival armed gangs”.
The school was shuttered in the wake of that attack.
Selina Apollon is back at school now, but remembers the two days of attacks in 2018.
“It was a massacre. I was very afraid, everyone was afraid. Fortunately, I didn’t lose any family or friends,” she said.
Selina was one of the children who were able to enrol in a new school, although for many that involved long daily journeys. Others stayed at home for all three years – unable to maintain their studies.
“I wanted to carry on studying, because without education I cannot succeed in life,” said the young student.
Today, Selina is reunited with all of her former classmates, including Jean Felix Jean, who is the president of the student council.
“Our school is located in a disadvantaged, even difficult area, but despite everything we have experienced, we realise that we are the agents of change. Education is the most powerful thing we have to change the world, so we understand we must work hard and continue on to university.”