The Sgt. Mark Gallagher Memorial Vocational School Project
The name Rivière Froide—literally, “cold river”—does not immediately call to mind the Caribbean. Yet, this place does exist. Even better, it recently became home to a training school built in honour of a man from colder climes, Sergeant Mark Gallagher, who died in the January 12, 2010, earthquake in Haiti.
Mark Gallagher was an RCMP officer and member of the United Nations international peacekeeping mission, who died in his Port-au-Prince apartment following the earthquake that caused more than 230,000 casualties.
Sgt. Mark Gallagher Vocational School
His death deeply saddened the people of his home province, New Brunswick. Wanting to commemorate his humanitarian commitment, Mark Gallagher’s friends launched a fundraising campaign at the time. It was a resounding success, raising more than one million dollars.
Since Haiti has so many needs to fill, there was no difficulty in finding a project that fit the generosity of New Brunswickers. In the neighbourhood of Carrefour in Haiti, the Little Sisters of St. Therese religious community had long dreamed of building a vocational school to help the unemployed youth in this region so hard hit by the earthquake.
And so, in partnership with the Government of Canada and the Association québécoise pour l’avancement des Nations Unies, all the participants agreed to work together to build a technical and vocational school in Rivière Froide. Since last October, the school has been offering programs in laying tile, carpentry, agriculture, masonry and secretarial studies.
Already, 112 students, including 12 women, are benefiting from the new facilities. Nadine (fictitious name) is one of them. What she has seen and heard so far inspires her confidence. “We are learning a lot of things, from planning tasks to carrying them out,” said the student. “The teachers are highly skilled.”
Equipped with a wheelchair ramp and built to withstand a sizeable earthquake, the school is welcoming and reassuring...just like Sergeant Gallagher was to so many people. Having left Canada for a nine-month assignment in Haiti, Sergeant Gallagher would no doubt be proud to see his name associated with an institution dedicated to training women and men destined to lead their own community forward.