2017 Annual Report of the Haiti EcoVillage School Partnership

The Atlanta Haiti EcoVillage School Partnership (HESP) is a collaboration among three Presbyterian churches (North Decatur, Good Shepherd, Emory) to build a school in the EcoVillages of the Central Plateau of Haiti.

The School

·      Began its 4th school year with 170 students serving Pre-K thru 6th grade.

·      Added two new classrooms, bringing the total to 7 classrooms.

·      Met education and curriculum standards set by the Haitian Ministry of Education, standards which will eventually qualify the school for financial support from the ministry.

Haiti EcoVillage School Partnership

·      Donated $48,731 with over 200 names in our donor base.  

·      Contributed 100% of donations intended for the school, paying expenses for fundraising, travel and communication separately.

·      Hosted 230 guests who attended The Flavors of Haiti event, raising 2/3 of the 2017 goal.

·      Received a $5,000 grant from Presbyterian Answer to Hunger.

·      Exchanged art between children in the EcoVillage school and children in the Atlanta congregations as a result of outreach to our educators. 

·      Focused spring mission trip on the art project while capturing stories and images to share with the Atlanta community.  Presented gift boxes assembled by women at GSPC and EPC to women in each EcoVillage household.

·      Contributed additional books to the school library.

·      Donated two sewing machines.

Partners

·      Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) contributed $50,000.

·      Mouvmen Payisan Papay (MPP) provided reliable project management and financial reporting.

·      Fall business trip brought HESP face-to-face with UUSC and MPP leaders to plan goals for 2018 and to solidify relationships.

·      Partners agreed to fund an $18,000 agricultural initiative for use by EcoVillages to invest in cash crops of goats, moringa and/or cassava. 60% of proceeds are earmarked to support operation of the school, with 40% to subsidize villagers’ income. Repayments will create a future revolving fund.

·      MPP agreed to redouble efforts to secure Ministry certification for the school.

Communication

·      Produced a video and extensive fresh content for our web presence and public events after mission trip.

·      Produced picture book, My School Is in the EcoVillages, which sold more than 40 copies.

·      Provided periodic newsletter updates to our mailing list of supporters.

2016 Annual Report for the Atlanta Church Group

The Atlanta Church Group (ACG) is a collaboration among three Presbyterian Churches (North Decatur, Good Shepherd, Emory) to build a school in the EcoVillages of the Central Plateau of Haiti.  2016 was the third of a five-year commitment.

The School

·       Began its third year with 166 students serving Pre-K thru 5th grade.

·       Added two new classrooms, bringing total to 5 of the 10 required classrooms.

·       Built a kitchen, allowing children to eat cooked food 4 days a week, prepared by volunteer parents.

·       Provided school uniforms for most children, sewed by village parents.

·       School garden was heavily damaged by Hurricane Mathew requiring replanting. Garden is tended by volunteer parents.

·       Goat program has added 20 goats, which are raised by families and will provide future school income.

·       Long-range agricultural plan continues to lag in development.  Irrigation and fencing for the main field are problems.

Atlanta Church Group

·       Reached its annual goal of $45,000 with over 150 donors.  The Taste of the Caribbean event hosted more than 100 attendees, while funds were donated by congregations from the three churches, area Unitarian Universalist churches and a fall solicitation to individual donors.

·       Received a $25,000 grant from Presbyterian Women, bringing our total contribution to $70,000. Additional grant applications have failed.

·       Women at GSPC and EPC compiled gift boxes for women of each household in the EcoVillages.

·       NDPC sent 120 books in Kreyol to begin a school library.

·       Purchased a sewing machine to support micro business and school uniforms.

·       April business trip allowed us to solidify our partnership with MPP.  A fall trip was postponed due to political unrest in Haiti.

Partners

·       Unitarian Universalist Service Committee contributed $50,000 and agreed to support the school for the next two years, in part with funds contributed after Matthew. Supportive staff now in Boston.

·       Mouvmen Paysan Papay (MPP) has successfully transitioned to new leadership and is providing project oversight while adding additional partners.

·       ACG efforts to recruit a UU congregation have fizzled.

Communication

·       The haitiecovillageschool.org website provided current news and photos while Facebook drove urgent messages, such as impact of Hurricane Matthew.

·       Periodic newsletters provided updates to our mailing list of supporters as well as church members.

 

Report submitted by Gordon French and Chris Calia, co-chairs.

 

2015 Annual Report for the Atlanta Church Group

The Atlanta Church Group (ACG) is a collaboration of three Presbyterian churches — North Decatur, Emory and Good Shepherd — to build a school in the EcoVillages, located in the Central Plateau of Haiti.  2015 was the second of a five year commitment.

The School

•    Increased number of students enrolled from 42 to 140 by November 2015, the second year of operation. Instruction is provided in five grade levels.

•    Constructed 3rd classroom

•    Established and governed by a 9-member board: 7 parents, the school principal and MPP representative. 

•    Board oversaw the development of adjacent farm lands.  Initial harvests have provided for school lunches.  Budgeted items for the farm were unmet due to drought and differing expectations.

•    Board aspires to create a self-funding model, but the approach is unclear.

•    Initiated goat husbandry program funded by 2014 Advent donation of 20 goats. By end of year there were 47 goats.

Atlanta Church Group Fund Raising

•    Achieved annual goal of $45,000through multiple sources, including 2014 Advent Goat and Seed Campaign, Taste of the Caribbean event, individual and church donations, October Person-to-Person Campaign, grant from the Ruth Schmidt endowment.

•    Connected 100+ attendees from 5 churches in the Taste of the Caribbean “friend raiser.”

•    Used social media to test person-to-person campaign

Partners

•    Unitarian Universalist Service Committee matched the ACG contribution of $45,000.  They experienced turnover of all their key Haiti staff, leading to interruptions of communication and decision delays. 

•    Mouvmen Paysan Papay (MPP) continued oversight of the project. Decision-making within MPP changed from one person to a council of three, leading to misunderstandings.

•    ACG continues to strive to reach goal of adding 3 local church partners. Presentations to UUs have led to a promising contact.  Broadening base is vital to funding.

Travel

•   April: a week-long interfaith mission trip with UU's combined work and learning. 

•   November: an ACG delegation met with our partners, discussed plans, clarified expectations and observed progress at the school.

Communication

•   The website and Facebook page proved our most effective tools for communicating to donors and beyond. Blogging by travelers was popular and drove hits to keep the sites vibrant.

•   The e-mail list of donors has been improved and a newsletter has been launched.

Submitted by ACG Co-Chairs Gordon French, Chris Calia