Haitian President Michel Martelly inaugurates Hand in Hand for Haiti school

Published: 20/05/14

Source: ©The Moodie Report

By Gavin Lipsith in Haiti

HAITI. President of Haiti Michel Martelly has lent crucial high-profile support to the travel retail industry-led Hand in Hand for Haiti initiative, officially inaugurating the free school on Saturday (17 May) at the opening of the new, US$1.5 million Dubai Duty Free-branded Sports Complex at Lycée Jean-Baptiste Pointe du Sable. The school was built as a humanitarian response to the catastrophic Haitian earthquake of January 2010.

Martelly, who attended with his wife First Lady of Haiti Sophia Martelly, was guest of honour at a football match to celebrate the opening of the complex. He congratulated the Hand in Hand for Haiti project leaders – represented at the event by The Estée Lauder Companies President Travel Retail Worldwide Olivier Bottrie (LVMH board member and former DFS Group President and CEO Ed Brennan and The Moodie Report Chairman Martin Moodie are also founding board members) – on turning the Hand in Hand for Haiti vision into reality.

The Hand in Hand for Haiti flag flew high and proud as Haiti’s President Michel Martelly inaugurated the school and its new sports complex

“I believe that access to education is essential to the future of Haiti,” he said. “We have our own government programme offering free education to children, and the quality of what is being done here with free education is very impressive. That is why I am happy to take the time to be here today and support the project.”

In his own address, Bottrie spoke of the school as being “a blueprint for education in Haiti” and underlined his faith in the country’s future.

President Martelly said the free school echoed his government’s commitment to greater access to education

“I believe there is a lot to play for,” he said. “Education will lead to a new generation of Haitians – civically responsible, open to the world and applied to the good of their country be it economic, political, social or humanitarian.”

Bottrie told The Moodie Report that President Martelly’s support will be crucial as the project enters a new phase, looking towards a wider pool of supporters to ensure long-term viability.

Bottrie spoke passionately about the role education could play in enabling the next generation of Haitians

“The success will come when we ensure that the school will continue beyond my lifetime, beyond Ed [Brennan]’s lifetime. To do that we need to widen the pool of big investors, and the President’s support will help to raise the project’s visibility among those potential donors.”

With a significant share of its funding coming from the travel retail community, Lycée Jean-Baptiste Pointe du Sable opened in October 2011 with 153 pupils. Today it has more than 250, aged between three and eight, and it will eventually provide free education for over 700 pupils.

Dubai Duty Free donated US$500,000 of the US$1.5 million needed to fund the impressive new sports complex
Olivier Bottrie presents President Martelly with the school pennant

The school takes a holistic approach to the welfare of its pupils; as well as a best-in-class, tri-lingual (French, English and Creole) programme aligned to the Haitian curriculum, it also provides two free meals a day, health care and a wide variety of social programmes. Within this, sport plays a pivotal role.

The new Dubai Duty Free Sports Complex features an international regulation soccer pitch with artificial turf, a basketball court, two volleyball courts and a 400-meter six-lane running track. Underlining the project’s commitment to the wider Haitian society, it will also be open to other schools in Pont Leocan – the poorest district of Saint Marc where Lycée Jean-Baptiste Pointe du Sable is located.

Dubai Duty Free Vice President – Finance Bernard Creed representing the company at the inauguration, is seen here alongside a bronze cast sculpture of the school’s namesake, Jean-Baptiste Pointe du Sable

The complex was funded by a US$500,000 donation from Dubai Duty Free, with other significant donations including Fondation Lacoste (basketball and volleyball courts), DFS Group, The Estée Lauder Companies and DFASS, as well as two big anonymous donors. The pan-industry Moodie Multinational Marathon and fundraising by Starboard Cruise Services/Onboard Media were also important revenue sources, while James Richardson (JR/Duty Free) is also an ongoing supporter.

A spectacular setting for the new sports facility at the school near Saint Marc

In his speech Bottrie thanked Dubai Duty Free (represented at the opening by Vice President of Finance Bernard Creed) for its major investment. In a statement Dubai Duty Free Executive Vice Chairman Colm McLoughlin said: “Our thanks to the President of Haiti, Michel Martelly for officially inaugurating this fantastic sports complex.

The Moodie Blog
Hand in Hand for Haiti – reflections on a journey
In perhaps the most important Moodie Blog ever written, Martin Moodie commented from Haiti in March 2010: “Just because the overwhelming majority of Haitians are conditioned to hardship should not make it acceptable to the outside world. We cannot stand back and allow this deprivation, accentuated by natural disaster, to be perpetuated.”

“Hand in Hand for Haiti has done a tremendous job in driving forward the phased opening of the lycée and the completion of the Dubai Duty Free Sports Complex in a short space of time in a challenging environment.

“We are very proud to have been part of this project, which will enrich the lives of young people living here and will encourage their interest in sport. My congratulations to all of those involved in the Hand in Hand for Haiti initiative, especially Olivier Bottrie, Ed Brennan, [DFASS Group Chairman and CEO] Benny Klepach and Martin Moodie, who have worked tirelessly in recent years to see these projects come to fruition.”

The opening of the new sports complex was celebrated with an exhibition soccer match between President Martelly’s team (though the president did not play) and a guest team that featured: seven members of a New York-based French team; two former France internationals (Olivier Dacourt and Ousmane Dabo); former Haiti coach and twice winner of the French league (with Monaco and Lens) Wagneau Eloi; and several players from a local Saint Marc team.

The New York contingent was led by coach-player Zohair Ghenania, a professor at the French Lycée of New York and former professional player in France. The Lycée in New York is a strong partner of the school in Saint Marc, assisting through teacher exchanges and programme direction.

Ghenania and the international team also donated sports equipment at the inauguration to help launch the school’s sports programme. The donation included 100 mini soccer balls, full-size soccer balls, basketballs and American footballs as well as whistles, cones, scrimmage vests, and chronometers.

Pupils had their first run on the new pitch at half time, playing with balls and other equipment donated by Zohair Ghenania and the international team

Hand in Hand for Haiti was launched following the devastating earthquake in Haiti in January 2010, which killed an estimated 220,00 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless in the capital Port au Prince and surrounding areas.

The project was memorably described by former French Ambassador to Haiti Didier le Bret as “the most important investment in the field of education outside of Port-au-Prince in the past 30 years” and stands as the single largest fund-raising campaign in travel retail history. Current French Ambassador to Haiti Patrick Nicoloso and his wife also attended Saturday’s opening.

For more information on Hand in Hand for Haiti or to donate, please visit www.HandinHandforHaiti.com.

NOTE: The Moodie Report was on location at the inauguration and will bring a full report, including an update on the long-term vision for the school, in The Moodie Report e-Zine on Thursday.

President Martelly’s team (in pink) played an exhibition match against an invitational team that included two former France internationals
Why the travel retail industry had to come together to support Hand in Hand for Haiti: Compare Haiti, in this film by Isabelle Veraille, shot soon after the Haiti earthquake of January 2010, with…


Author: `