Haiti’s education system faces grave financial challenges. Minimal government support means that 90% of schools must rely on enrollment fees or donations to support their work. With widespread poverty, most families can’t afford to pay and schools either end up scraping by to survive, or get trapped in unhealthy dependency on outside support.
To truly “help Haitians change Haiti”, these challenges must be addressed in a way that builds real financial independence. We’re working with our partner schools and the Children’s Academy to start innovative social businesses – for-profit cooperatives that are designed to create jobs, address economic needs in the community, and in time, generate profits that will help cover the schools’ operating costs.
We’re blessed to have the partnership of Yunus Social Business, founded by Nobel Peace Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus, the father of modern microfinance. YSB provides expertise and training in business development, and works with international corporations such as SAP and Accenture to secure low-interest loans with eight-year repayment period. Over the last two years, we’ve worked with YSB to lay the groundwork for successful social entrepreneurship: developing business plans, training community leaders, and building local support.
We’re currently working to launch four different social businesses. On La Gonave, we’re launching a poultry farm that will support the Bel Platon Community School. In Darbonne, four of our partner schools have come together to establish another poultry farm on a much larger scale. And in Bawosya, at the Children’s Academy, we’re starting two different social businesses: a bakery, and a construction company in partnership with Extollo International, a San Francisco based non-profit that works to train and establish Haitian building firms.
These businesses will be independent for-profit cooperatives, overseen by many of the same trusted colleagues that make our other programs possible. And in addition to loans secured through YSB, we’ve received additional start-up capital through grants from the Pan-American Development Foundation and USAID. We’re excited for what’s to come!
*To view blog posts about social business, click here.
Remembering… 3 years ago today rebuilding efforts in Darbonne, Haiti. ow.ly/gKbHb
Remembering… John’s first visit to Darbonne after the earthquake. ow.ly/gKb0F
Remembering… John’s first visit to Darbonne after the earthquake. ow.ly/gKaU4
3 years after the earthquake, we look back: John’s 1st report from Darbonne & our partner schools youtu.be/ixBdkCuqdnE
July 1, 2012
It’s been great hosting InterVarsity Project Team in Haiti at our home/guesthouse (John and Merline Engle) for their last three days in Haiti. For two and a half weeks they spent time in the villages of Darbonne and Cabois teaching English in our partner schools and living and connecting with local families. Today they return to US. We’ll miss them! Here’s a fun video of them singing and dancing with Haiti Partners Youth Choir, WOZO:
More photos and videos of their time at partner schools and in villages coming!
December 4, 2011
The Kenbe La Foundation was founded by New Zealander Emily Sanson-Rejouis in honor of her husband Emmanuel (Haitian) and their two small children, Kofie-Jade (5) and Zenzie (3) who lost their lives in the 2010 earthquake. Click here to read this story of tragedy and hope that brings tears to my (John) and my wife Merline’s eyes nearly every time we think of it. Like countless others, we draw inspiration from Emily’s determination to “Kenbe la” (Never Give Up) and to help children in Haiti.
Please, I encourage you to watch this video. It fabulously communicates Haitian talent and also determination in the face of tragedy. My children Daniel (5) and Leila (3) request it be played regularly. They break into dance immediately when hearing it and sing along. Kofie-Jade, Zenzie and Emmanuel, we regret we never met you even though we feel like we know you. We feel your spirits here with us when our family dances together to Kenbe La.
Haiti Partners is honored to be in partnership with Kenbe La Foundation. Three containers filled with school furniture and supplies and a prefab building that will be used as a clinic beside Henri Christophe School are on their way to Haiti. Once they land, the UN (Emily and Emmanuel were UN staff) will deliver them to Darbonne for our partner schools. Emily and a team of construction professionals are planning to come to Haiti in April 2012 to work with community members to erect the building and transform the containers into usable space for a clinic and the school. Emily, Merline and I can’t wait to finally meet you in person.
Nearly 50% of school age children don’t go to school. 90% of schools must rely solely on enrollment fees to support their work. Unfortunately, families – more than 50% of Haitians live on less than a $1 a day – can’t afford to pay much and schools scrape by just to survive. Teachers regularly go unpaid, facilities are dreadfully inadequate, and students lack even basic educational materials.
Haiti Partners’ SCHOOLS program responds to this with a two-pronged approach: the Children’s Academy and Learning Center, and the Partner School Strategy.
The Children’s Academy and Learning Center
The Haiti Partners Children’s Academy and Learning Center serves as an incubator for the approaches and ideas that will reshape education toward a stronger, more democratic Haiti. Combining a high quality school, a profitable social business, and a learning center for local residents and visiting Haitian educators, it will be a catalyst for rethinking education and the role of schools in community development. The Children’s Academy works hand-in-glove with the partner schools, where multiple environments help to refine and contextualize new ideas and practices for quality education and social business throughout Haiti. More >
The Partner School Strategy
The partner school strategy was inspired by a sustainable education model developed by a grassroots organization in a remote area of Haiti. We select schools with strong leadership but lacking in resources. Together with them we develop an accord and work plan for accompanying them over the course of a set number of years. During this time we build capacity through substantial training, improve the school’s infrastructure, and provide access to seed capital and support to create a social business helping them along the road toward long-term financial independence.
The partner school model helps students:
- Develop their God-given potential
- Cultivate their sense of character and personal responsibility
- Become engaged citizens and community members
And helps the school:
- Engage teachers, parents, and students to continually improve their school
- Become sustainable long-term
- Share their learning with others to replicate success
Below is a list of the schools that Haiti Partners currently partners with. We are interested in developing relationships with individuals, groups and schools in the US and elsewhere to help us support these partner schools. If you are interested in partnering with us to help support any of these schools, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Cité Soleil Community School; Port-au-Prince: 180 students
- Cabois Community School; Darbonne (20 miles West of PaP): 162 students
- Henri Christophe Community School; Darbonne: 186 students
- IMN Community School; Darbonne: 189 students
- Anonsiyasyon Community School; Darbonne: 133 students
- Bèl Platon Community School; Island of La Gonâve: 142 students
To see a map of Partner School locations, click here.
To read more about Partner School goals, click here.
To read notes from Partner School meetings, click here.
Partner With Us
- $1 a day ($360/year) sends a child to school for the entire year
- $3,600 ($300/month) supports a classroom for a year
- $20,000 supports an entire school for a year
- Improves facilities and provides educational materials for students
- Trains teachers in student-centered, innovative education methods
- Provides training for school staff and local community to create social businesses that can help pay for teacher salaries and other expenses
August 9, 2011
We’re saying goodbye to friends Allan Klotsche and Mary Pautz as they return to Vero Beach tomorrow. But, they’ll be back soon!
Below, Mary and Allan are pictured with WOZO, Haiti Partners Youth Choir.
It’s been wonderful having them with us in Haiti during the last several days. In addition to spending time with Haiti Partners Youth Choir and providing valuable insight as choir prepares to travel to US for the first time, they also met with school principals and teachers in several of our partner schools to explore the possibility of having them return to do a seminar in using music in education.
Allan has played a key role in creation and development of Haiti Partners. One example of his critical role in Haiti Partners work is that following the earthquake, he facilitated the donation from Briggs and Stratton, and delivery of 240 5.5 Kw generators.
Allan and Mary are scheduled to be back in October to do a seminar with school principals and teachers with our partner schools on music in the classroom: How to help children develop the joy of music and how to use music to help children to develop skills in reading, math and in critical thinking.
Haiti Partners is excited about this partnership. Thank you, Allan and Mary!
July 12, 2011
I (Jonathan) am in Haiti this week with a team of campus ministers from InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, an interdenominational group serving students and faculty across the nation. IVCF’s vision is to see students and faculty transformed, campuses renewed, and world changers developed.
At William & Mary, I had the privilege of being a part of this movement, and now, I’m getting to partner with IVCF again here in Haiti! This team is exploring setting up a Global Urban Trek that gives students a 6 week opportunity to explore international development, social justice, and working with the poor out of a devotion to Christian faith. Treks have spread out across the globe to Cairo, Kalkota, Manila, Mexico City, and Bangkok, and hundreds of students have gone on to devote their lives to working with the poor.
This week, the team is staying with families in our network out in Darbonne and Cabois. They’re teaching English, crafts, and music to students and teachers in our schools. The energy has been incredible, everybody’s having a lot of fun and learning a lot. Stay tuned for more to come!
January 28, 2011
This week Open Space meetings were held at Cabois Community School, one of our partners schools, as well as in the community of Nan Chato – both in the Darbonne area. These community Open Space meetings are a part of our Civic Empowerment Grant project with USAID. Led by experienced Reflection Circle and Open Space practitioners, participants begin in Reflection Circle groups to cultivate democratic skills and habits, go on to study the Haitian constitution to learn more about their rights and responsibilities as Haitian citizens, and then learn to exercise these new skills and knowledge through community-wide Open Space meetings.
Open Space participants in Cabois meet in small groups and consider topics
In Nan Chato participants meet as a large group as Haiti Partners associate, Élisee Thomas, explains how to use Open Space
October 19, 2010
The following essay is by Bridget Johnston, a senior at Vero Beach High School, who went on a trip to Haiti a few months ago. She wrote it as part of a scholarship application and we’re grateful she’s letting us share it with you. It’s exciting to us to see people helping to make a positive difference for Haiti…and also to see that Haiti makes a positive difference in their own lives.
Essay by Bridget Johnston:
My goals in life are two-fold: I intend to combine my love of music with my passion for volunteer work. While these two goals may seem difficult to reconcile, I know from prior experience that these two goals are harmonious. When it comes to music, I want to be the cello girl. I want to be the one to call when there is a need for a musician for anything from a jazz club gig to soloing with a symphony orchestra…
Ever since I first heard the sound of a cello, I was hooked… Now, not only am I still taking lessons, but I am also giving them, and that’s where I have found the common ground that allows me to combine my love of music with my passion for volunteer work… I’ve found that teaching and sharing the gift of music has become an increasingly integral part of my everyday life.
While I could discuss the benefits of having a musical education for several more pages, it is also my firm belief that every child deserves an equal opportunity to a basic academic education. That is why I went into action and continue to be in action to help improve the educational opportunities in Haiti. After the devastating January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, rather than texting ten dollars to the Red Cross, I knew that I could make more of an impact myself. My experiences with Haiti – raising over $2,000 at a benefit charity concert; buying, packing and shipping 15,000 pounds of medical supplies; and then physically going to Haiti to put the supplies in the hands of orphans – led me to a non-profit organization, Haiti Partners, that would change my life forever.
Working together with this inspirational group and my high school, I am collaborating on an effort to re-establish…the [Darbonne Community School, a partner school of Haiti Partners that] will provide children in that area with the opportunity to obtain a quality education that will exponentially increase their potential for becoming successful leaders in their country. Furthermore, the school will be an essential community center, being equipped with a water purifier, Internet access and solar power. Raising money for this program, along with promoting education and healthcare in Haiti, has become an enriching experience that I plan to continue for the rest of my life. I am sharing my love of music with these students by working on a project with the Haiti Partners’ Youth Choir (Wozo)…
This is an example of how I blend my love of music and my passion for volunteering now and how I plan to live my life in the future.
October 7, 2010
The pictures below were taken by our Haitian colleagues in Darbonne, Abelard Xavier and Gerald Lumarque. The first two are of the new construction at Henri Christophe Community School. The others are from Cabois Community School where the new school year has opened with teacher and parent meetings as well as parents participating in school improvements by bringing flowers to plant in the school yard. Thanks so much to all of you who have made this wonderful work possible!
(For more pictures of construction progress at Henri Christophe Community School, click here.)
(For more pictures of progress at Cabois Community School, click here.)
June 22, 2010
Yesterday our group from Silver Spring Presbyterian Church (Mechanicsburg, PA) traveled to Darbonne and Cabois with Haiti Partners Youth Choir. They connected with the students and teachers in song and stories. Great fun! The roads are washed out and with a bus for all 33 of us there was no way to cross the river except by foot. Some are not familiar with river crossing and were quite scared and emotional ; ). No one was hurt or swept away by river.
May 30, 2010
Here is a press release that InterVarsity Press just put out about a trip we just did together to Haiti this past week in conjunction with Kent’s book:
Haiti Partners and InterVarsity Press Have Successful Haiti Trip
WESTMONT, IL: In November 2009, InterVarsity Press launched a contest in conjunction with Haiti Partners to highlight Kent Annan’s book Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle: Living Fully, Loving Dangerously. To enter and possibly win a trip to Haiti, contestants wrote essays or made videos to answer the question: “How would going to Haiti help you live out your calling of living fully and loving dangerously?”
“When we first thought of the trip, it seemed like an interesting way to connect people with the ideas of the book,” explains Annan, the co-director of Haiti Partners, a nonprofit committed to improving education in Haiti.
And then the earthquake hit.
After much discussion and prayer, Haiti Partners decided that the trip should still occur, and so the entries were judged in March and six winners were chosen: Jamie Arpin-Ricci, Lindsay Bonilla, Jonathan Chan, Holly Drake, Travis Dennis, and Mariana Valbuena.
From May 20-24, under the leadership of Annan and John Engle, the other co-director of Haiti Partners, the six winners plus Dave Zimmerman (Annan’s editor) spent five days in Haiti and met with various Haitian leaders and educators. Only five months after the earthquake, the team witnessed firsthand the widespread devastation in Port-au-Prince.
“We saw building after building that had been demolished, innumerable tent cities, and the ads of dozens of aid agencies and NGOs,” noted Jonathan Chan.
The first stop on the trip was the former site of a university that Enel Angervil, a Haitian colleague with Haiti Partners, had attended. He was in the 6-story building when it collapsed, killing nearly 250 people. As he shared his story, workers pulled bodies from the rubble behind them.
In the midst of these circumstances, however, the majority of the Haitians that the team encountered were filled with hopefulness, creativity, and a resolute determination to rebuild Haiti across all sectors.
On Friday the team attended an education meeting in the small village of Cabois, a couple of hours outside Port-au-Prince. The event took place outside, across from the site where a school with Haiti Partners is now being rebuilt. The educators shared their stories about rebuilding the school system and their educational philosophy, with an emphasis on instilling a sense of community responsibility among the students, parents, and teachers.
“We met creative, imaginative, dedicated Haitians, in the cities and the country, who are passionate about seeing children empowered, encouraged and set on a path to shape their country’s future,” said Dave Zimmerman.
For a few of the nights, team members split up and stayed with local families near the town of Darbonne, which is close to the epicenter.
“Holly, Lindsay and I got to spend the night with the family Kent Annan describes in his book, the one he and his wife lived with for the first few months in Haiti. It was exciting to meet the people I had read about,” said Mariana Valbuena. “They took the time to include us in their daily activities and were patient with us when we didn’t understand a word they said. With them, I didn’t see the suffering of Haiti; I saw the strength received in God.”
The team also attended a commencement ceremony for students who had finished an 8-week laptop training as a part of the “One Laptop Per Child” program. 40 children and 10 mentors from four Haiti Partner schools participate in this XO Laptop pilot project.
On Saturday the team met Andre, the principal of two local schools and the religious director of a Catholic church, who challenged them with these words: “Discouragement isn’t Christian. If you’re alive, God has work for you to do.”
On Sunday morning, the group attended Andre’s church, where everyone gathered under a tarp because the building had collapsed in the earthquake. Only the tabernacle, which holds the sacrament, remained.
“The sermon was about Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and emphasized that no matter the language we spoke, the most important one, the one the Spirit generates in us and that God expects of us, is the language of love. So after we receive more than we give in an exchange like this, then it seems we return home with the responsibility to grow in love,” notes Annan.
Upon returning home, Lindsay Bonilla describes her experience: “I’ve been on lots of missions trips in the past and when I got home I could say: ‘I helped build a playground or paint a wall’ or ‘Our team led worship services and did a Vacation Bible School.’ But this trip was very different. I wasn’t there to do; I was there to listen and learn, to be fully present and take in whatever I could.”
“It was a really good trip, with many meaningful exchanges between the Americans and Haitians we stayed with and visited. And every one of the contest winners was curious, listening, respectful, and patient. Our Haitian hosts and the people we visited with (all friends and colleagues) were incredibly gracious and hospitable. It all turned out even better than I hoped,” said Annan.
All proceeds from Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle: Living Fully, Loving Dangerously go to Haiti Partners, as will the proceeds from Annan’s next book called Shaken: Searching for Honest Faith When Life Makes No Sense, which will be released with IVP in early 2011. Arpin-Ricci also has a forthcoming book with IVP.
For additional reflections from the participants: www.ivpress.com/haititrip