On the exact day of the 10-year anniversary of the earthquake that killed 230,000 in Haiti, a group of 11 Seacoast residents are traveling to a school largely supported by residents and groups in southern New Hampshire and Maine.
Among those drawn to help Haiti at the time of the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake were the Ritchies, an Eliot, Maine, family of four.
“When I heard about the earthquake I wanted to do something, anything to help,” said Nicole Ritchie, who is heading to Eben Ezer School in Milot with her husband, Stephen, and daughters, Manu and Sophie. “Knowing there was a group from the Seacoast already working in Haiti gave me a direct avenue for sending aid.”
According to a news release, Manu and Sophie were in elementary school at the time and began raising money for the school in Haiti through their elementary schools.
Now Sophie, 19, and Manu, 16, are getting set to see school and meet the teacher whose salary the Ritchies have paid for the last several years.
The 11 travelers will be carrying hundreds of pounds of donations from many of the dozens of Seacoast residents who have been key to building the Eben Ezer School. It has grown from 35 students in 2007 to more than 500 students.
School founder Lucia Anglade of West Babylon, N.Y., will be going as well.
Residents of the Seacoast first got involved in 2007. For the past three years about 15 families have each paid a teacher’s salary, accounting for the entire payroll of the school, the news release states.
The Seacoast travelers will see the guesthouse that Life and Hope is building, which will bring jobs to residents, vocational training to students and an income to the school.
The employees of Bob’s Clamhut in Kittery, Maine, provided the seed money to build the main structure, and the York and South Berwick Rotary clubs provided a grant to send down solar panels, large tools, a generator and a truck.
Travelers will talk about their trip at the annual fundraising dance on March 21 at 3S Art Space in Portsmouth. The Caribbean Nights Party, first held in 2010, will again feature the music of Combo Sabroso, a Boston band that plays a lively blend of Salsa, Reggae and Afro-Cuban.
The trip planned for this week was originally set for March 2019 but unrest in Haiti at the time led to its being rescheduled.
“I am so glad for sponsors to be able to see the school and meet the teachers and children they have supported,” said Anglade who founded the school in 2003. “I was sad when last year’s trip was cancelled, but now I know they will finally see the school, as well as the guesthouse, which is closer to being finished, thanks to the help that came from Maine and New Hampshire.”