Haiti: Save Sopudep School


Urgent Action Requested

SOPUDEP is a private non-profit school in Haiti that has served the poorest and most vulnerable children of the community of Petion-Ville since 2001. The children who attend SOPUDEP school would never have a chance at an education save for this wonderful project. Most of them also receive their only hot meal every school day through the school’s Hot Lunch Program. Given the latest rise in food prices and the hardship this has caused Haitian families, the Hot Lunch Program is an indispensable component SOPUDEP’s work in the community.

For several months now, a variety of characters have appeared at the school to demand they vacate the premises. Some falsely stated they were descendants of the original owner but mostly it was an attempt to pressure the school by disrupting its normal operation. On Monday July 28, 2008, the Mayor of Petion-Ville, Lydie Clark Parent, delivered an eight (8) day eviction notice to SOPUDEP to vacate their school premises. This action is NOT legal as SOPUDEP has a 12-year lease on the property that expires in 2012. The school’s rights under this contract were ultimately respected by the Mayor’s office and the government of Latortue in 2004-2006 and has subsequently been recognized as valid by the Ministry of Education and the Preval administration.

On Tuesday, August 5, 2008, the SOPUDEP school will begin the procedure to file an injunction against Mayor Lydie Clark Parent and ask the court to uphold their binding 12-year lease at their current location. In an effort to show Mayor Parent and the Haitian court the importance of the SOPUDEP school, they ask that all people of goodwill and solidarity please write a letter expressing their support for the school and its more that 450 students. These letters will be critical to showing the wide-spread support SOPUDEP school has throughout the world in the coming days and weeks. Please take five minutes of your time as soon as possible and help save this wonderful resource for Haiti’s poorest children in Petion-Ville, Haiti by writing a letter on their behalf today!


Lionel Wooley was an assassin for the regimes of Papa Doc and Baby Doc Duvalier. In exchange for killing opponents of these repressive regimes in Haiti, he was allowed to steal the property of his victims and claim them as his own. In late 2000, Lionel Wooley died in exile in Miami and the government expropriated the properties he had stolen. Most were returned to the surviving members of the original victim’s families but a few had no known descendents. Among these few properties was a dilapidated mansion, burned and pillaged by an angry local community after the departure of Baby Doc. It is situated in the hills of Petion-Ville behind the Montana Hotel .

The property passed through Mayor Sulley Guriere of Petion-Ville, to SOPUDEP whose membership actively participates in the National Literacy Project. Although the literacy campaign is designed for adults 30-60, SOPUDEP was deeply affected by the number of school age children who attended classes as well. They were mostly children of the poor whose parents could not afford to send them to school and could not find a place for them in the over crowded classrooms of the already overwhelmed public schools system. For this reason SOPUDEP made a decision to turn the property into a school for the most vulnerable and poor children of Petion-Ville. The SOPUDEP team hired a lawyer and began the legal process for acquiring a long term lease of the property in 2000 as well as restructuring their organization to meet the requirements of the Haitian government to operate the school. SOPUDEP was given a 12-year lease on the property that expires in 2012 and was provided accreditation by the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Education to conduct a school at the facility.

Their initial enrollment totaled 160 but has now grown to over 480 as of the 2007/08 school year. It stands as a beautiful example of transforming a gruesome legacy of the past into a symbol of hope for the future.

Since its founding, the school also added a government funded hot lunch program to supplement the diet of their students and staff. For many it was their only meal of the day. When President Aristide was ousted in 2004, funding for the program ceased. That same year the school suffered threats of attack from militia groups and unelected officials. Thankfully, no harm was inflicted on them. SOPUDEP struggles each month to pay its staff and continue the hot lunch program that was reinstated in March of 2008. SOPUDEP is a wonderful example of a community initiative founded more on courage and love than money. They try not turn down any poor child of the community for lack of funds.

For further information about SOPUDEP school please visit:

-School’s website:

-Kevin Sites article on the school for Hotzones on Yahoo:

Urgent Action Requested

We must act quickly if this precious resource is to be saved and the rights of SOPUDEP’s school protected. Please forward this alert far and wide.

Please write a letter to:

1. Demand that this illegal attempt to seize SOPUDEP’s school property by the Mayor’s office in Petion-Ville stop immediately.

2. Demand that the legal rights of this important institution be respected according to the 12-year lease negotiated with the Haitian national government in 2000.

3. Demand that all acts of intimidation and coercion by the Mayor’s office in Petion-Ville to seize the SOPUDEP school halt immediately.

Instructions for Letter Campaign

For organizations: Please write a letter on your official letterhead, scan it and email it as an attachment (.pdf is usually the easiest).

For individuals: Please write an email or include attachment (.pdf, .doc)

Email your letters to the school’s director, Rea Dol. She will make copies and hand deliver them. Email your letters to:

Madame Rea Dol, Director SOPUDEP School


Sample Letter

Honorable Lydie Clark Parent
Mayor of Petion-Ville

Dear Madame Parent,

It has come to my attention that on July 28, 2008 your office issued a 8 day eviction notice to the SOPUDEP school located in morne Lazarre. As a supporter of this important institution I demand that their rights be respected and the school be allowed to continue without further intervention.

The SOPUDEP school has a 12-year lease on its current location that has been respected by previous administrations at the local and national level in Haiti. They have worked closely with the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Education to insure that SOPUDEP school conforms to all the codes necessary for operating the school.

In closing, we are aware of statements you have made in the past concerning the importance of helping the poor in Haiti and the community. We ask that you recognize the value of the service provided by the SOPUDEP school to Petion-Ville’s poorest and most vulnerable school age children. Please respect the legal rights of the SOPUDEP school and honor the 12-year lease negotiated with the government in 2000.


SOPUDEP Legal Defense Fund

SOPUDEP school has contacted an attorney in Haiti who is familiar with the case and is willing to represent them. He has requested a retainer fee of $530.00 US that the school is currently unable to pay. There may be other legal expenses as the case makes its way through the daunting Haitian legal system. Please consider making a donation to the SOPUDEP Legal Defense Fund. Please go to SOPUDEP.org for details about sending your contributions. All contributions should earmarked “SOPUDEP Legal Defense Fund.” You may also make donations towards the school’s General Fund, the Hot Lunch Program, and the Textbook Fund and join the SOPUDEP school team in continuing to serve their community.

For further information please contact:

Haiti via email (French or Kreyol only):

Madame Rea Dol, Director SOPUDEP School

In the U.S.:
Kevin Pina