After surviving the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, Petra Nemcova founded the Happy Hearts Fund (HHF) to rebuild safe resilient schools in areas that are impacted by natural disasters. In the spring of 2017, Petra visited Careyes and, impressed by the work the Foundation had done in converting local elementary schools into emergency shelters, took an interest in reconstructing our local preschools. These schools were still severely damaged more than two years after the destruction of Hurricane Patricia in October 2015.
Early this year, HHF approved funding for the reconstruction project; our field manager, Ignacio Pelayo, has since been working closely with their team to plan and manage the construction. Phase one is now complete: a complete renovation of the preschool in the village of Miguel Hidalgo Viejo.
In addition to making the structural repairs necessary to provide a safe and functional learning evironment, major improvements were made to the preschool’s kitchen so that it may be used as a community kitchen. Through this project, proposed by the school's teachers, at least two jobs will be created for kitchen staff who will sell food to the many agricultural workers of the area. Under a cooperative agreement, the profits from the food sales will be returned to the school to fund maintenance and future repairs, lessening their dependence on government aid.
This preschool currently serves 40 children, but has at some point been a home for all community members and will be for future generations. We are thrilled to be part of this effort in Miguel Hidalgo Viejo and hope to similarly transform the preschools of the other villages in our service area.