Mid-July heavy rainfall caused the Vesdre River to overflow, with the floodwater rising several metres and wreaking havoc. One month after the flooding, many families still have no place to live and 200 children cannot return to school. Maryline Langer, a bailiff at Modero Liège, witnessed the disaster first hand and tells us her story.
"It is unimaginable. Pepinster looks like a war zone you would see on television. I immediately went to help people, known or unknown." she tells us. "Because of the flood, a colleague from the Modero office in Liege no longer had a place to live. I immediately took in my colleague, together with his partner and their dog."
Today the situation in Pepinster is still not under control. Rubble and debris are still everywhere. "The solidarity of the inhabitants of Pepinster has given way to a slightly more formal organisation. But it is still very complicated." For example, the Belgian army has only been present in Pepinster after a month to provide hot meals for the residents.
During the flooding of a month ago, the school of Pepinster wasn't spared either. One of the three school buildings was completely destroyed and has to be demolished for the safety of the children and staff. Another building is so damaged that a huge amount of work has to be done before the children can be welcomed back in September. "Nothing is recognisable anymore. And nothing, absolutely nothing, can be preserved or reused," Maryline testifies. "Because of the damage, 200 children will not be able to return to school in September."
In early August, Modero started a fundraising campaign for the school, with our employees setting up actions to raise money. It is essential for us that the children of Pepinster are able to return to a warm and safe school environment in September. When Maryline heard the news, she was extremely grateful. "I could not believe it at first. When I was little, I went to the school in Pepinster myself. My children go there now and some of my relatives work at the school. I had a huge feeling of gratitude. I even shed a tear when I heard the news.
The school is also immensely grateful. "I am particularly in touch with the teachers who have to rearrange the classrooms and I am thanked daily. It is touching. The management is more than overwhelmed, but very grateful," Maryline tells us.
Since the start of the fundraising campaign, the Modero employees have not been idle. As a bailiff, Maryline oversees the school's bank account and sees all donations come in. At this moment, the counter is already at 3,345 euros. Maryline tells us that, thanks to Modero's fundraising campaign, the school has already been able to make some purchases. "They bought laminators, cutting machines and other small office equipment from a local supplier.”
But in addition to teaching materials, the school also has to pay costs that are not covered by insurance, such as:
- The demolition of a school building and the installation of container classrooms, roughly estimated at €35,000.
- The reconstruction of a new playground.
- Helping affected families buy school supplies.
Maryline is touched by the solidarity of the citizens, yet they sometimes feel abandoned by the local and national authorities. Therefore, Maryline and the school are very happy with all the support they receive from the Modero employees. A school can never get enough donations. "Every euro is important. So never think that what you want to do is not worth it. Proper supplies will be distributed to the affected children. A functioning school is essential to relieve the exhausted parents. We must create an oasis of tranquillity for the parents and their children. An investment in the school is an investment in future generations. The welfare of the children is essential after more than a year of corona. They need to feel safe, wanted, surrounded and loved."
Do you wish to contribute to the fundraising campaign as well?
Would you like to contribute personally or from your company to the rebuilding of the school in Pepinster? Then you can do so by making a donation to account number BE41 0689 4225 6310. Please put 'Modero' in the message of the transfer. More information about the fundraising campaign can be found here.
Give the children of Pepinster the opportunity back to do what children are supposed to do, play and learn together.
Modero & Écoles Libres de Pepinster, tous ensemble !