The recent earthquake in Haiti may have been hundreds of miles away, but it hit close for one Ohio State professor.
Terri Teal Bucci, associate professor at the OSU Mansfield campus, launched a program to help schools in Haiti after visiting the Hope School for Girls in 2003.
The school is run by an Ohio couple from Lexington, Tim and Toby Banks, who were in Haiti when a magnitude 7 earthquake rocked the country and reportedly killed hundreds of thousands Tuesday.
While the couple, students and staff are safe, the school is uninhabitable and some of its buildings were destroyed.
As the country attempts to recover, contact with Bucci’s friends and colleagues is limited to Facebook, with their only power coming from a backup generator.
“It is just a devastating event,” Bucci said.
The guesthouse that Bucci normally stays in, located in Pétionville,
has suffered significant damage. Owners Craig and Cathy Benson, a Bellville, Ohio couple are safe, but are surrounded by destruction.
In the ravine behind their house, 80 percent of the concrete homes are gone and many people are lost.
A clinic close by is overrun with survivors, Bucci said.
Bucci’s program takes faculty, students and other professionals in education to Haitian primary schools three times a year. Participants gain experience in schools and then work with teachers to improve teaching methods.
The program is funded through a $70,000 grant, but is seeking additional funding.
Bucci’s next visit is planned for the first week of March.
“We will still be going, as long as there is someplace to go to,” Bucci said.
The Empowerment Program works with two colleges, the University of Caraibe in Port-au-Prince and the University of Notre Dame in Haiti, neither of which Bucci has been able to contact yet.
There were no OSU faculty or students in Haiti with the Empowerment Program during the earthquake.