Brooklyn Man Tries to Rebuild School in Haiti on Anniversary - NBC New York

Brooklyn Man Tries to Rebuild School in Haiti on Anniversary



    Brooklyn Man Tries to Rebuild School in Haiti on Anniversary
    Getty Images
    MIAMI - FEBRUARY 12: Julie Mondelus (L) and her granddaughter Stacey Mondelus and others of Haitian descent hold candles during a prayer vigil at the Notre Dame d'Haiti Catholic church as they mark the one month anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti on February 12, 2010 in Miami, Florida. Many people in the South Florida Haitian community have been affected by the earthquake because of the scale of it. An estimated 200,000 have been killed and has left as many as a million people homeless. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Stacey Mondelus;Juilie Mondelus

    It's something we all know -- the familiar sounds of children learning and playing.  This time, it came from students in Haiti in tents just steps away from where their school once stood.

    It was a year ago that an earthquake leveled the two year-old building in Colline, Leogane, located about an hour and a half drive outside of Port-Au-Prince

    "It was nothing but rubble," said founder of the Colline Academy Jimmy Toussaint, "and it really hurt my heart because I know how much work we put into it and I had a lot of goals."

    The school was started by Toussaint and his parents when he was just a sophomore at Brooklyn College.  Students at the twenty-five classroom school, which taught Kindergarten through 4th grade, were dismissed just hours before the quake hit  before 5pm on January 12th, 2010. 

    1 Year Later

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    (Published Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011)

    Now, the Flatbush, Brooklyn native and other volunteers through his Colline Foundation travel between his home in Flatbush and Haiti, working to rebuild the school where dozens of children were displaced.

    "Even though it's hard for us to rebuild, we're inching away..brick by brick," said Toussaint. 

    It's been a challenge for the native son who was unable to send many Christmas gifts to the kids. 

    Back here in New York, Haitian-Americans rallied for a speedy rebuilding process outside the UN on the anniversary.
    "It's very hard to break a Haitian because of their spirit," said Toussaint, who vowed to rebuild both his school, and his country.

    "I'm very confident about that," he said, of Haiti's future.