Haiti offers many questions and a few answers.

 

 
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Why Haiti? 

The 2010 Haitian earthquake was the greatest natural disaster in the history of the Western Hemisphere—as many as 250,000 lives were lost, a million were rendered homeless, and billions of dollars of property were destroyed. This compounded the problems for the poorest country with the highest illiteracy rate in the Western Hemisphere.

Today, the government is in chaos. It is corrupt and chiefly serves the interests of the elite, as evidenced by its failure to support its schools. The Haitian currency is in free-fall and inflation is rampant.  Hunger is growing. Jobs are scarce.

We cannot fix Haiti’s problems.  We can plant seeds for a hopeful future.

Why are they called EcoVillages?

They practice sustainable, organic agriculture.  MPP, a nation-wide agricultural co-op, has taught the residents how to compost to create rich soil, how to use tire gardens to conserve soil and water, and how to select and plant the most nutritious crops that thrive in the area’s dry and rainy seasons.  EcoVillagers are able to feed their families healthy meals from their land, while generating modest income to pay for necessities.

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How big is the school now? What is the goal?

The school has 9 classrooms, a kitchen, a dining hall, storage for food, a latrine, 2 large gardens, and a well.  One more classroom is required for it to have all the facilities it needs to meet the standards set by the Haitian Ministry of Education for a Fundamental School.  Children in Haiti must pass a national examination after the 9th grade to qualify to attend high school.  Our goal is to educate children to pass that exam.

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What about long-term sustainability?

The Haitian Constitution guarantees each child a free education.  Thus, the Haitian Ministry of Education has set standards for schools and it only nationalizes schools after they meet those standards. The EcoVillage School was nationalized in 2018 and all the teachers are certified by the Ministry, meaning that the Ministry of Education is obligated to pay for the teachers. However, the government is short on funds for this purpose.  The Ministry is not meeting its requirement to pay the teachers. Until the government meets its requirements, there must be a Plan B for the school to operate.

If the government can’t support the school now, what is Plan B?

Despite their impoverished circumstances, it’s up to the parents to keep their children’s school open.  As a bridge to allow parents to build capacity to support their school, the Haiti EcoVillage School Partnership has committed to provide funds through the end of 2021 to pay the staff. 

Some of the school parents are farmers who have access to land and expertise from MPP.  Our Partnership invested in a loan program to allow EcoVillagers to produce cash crops (goats, moringa, cassava) that would directly support the school.  Additional funding must come from the many parents who do not reside in the EcoVillages.

Who can join the Partnership?

Everyone is welcome.

Many Haitian-Americans in the Atlanta area have joined the partnership, making this a multi-cultural experience for all involved.  We look forward to expanding our group further.

Who can I contact to talk about this project and the school? 

Gordon French and Chris Calia are co-chairs of the Haiti EcoVillage School Partnership. Contact Gordon French or Chris Calia.

Haiti Country Profile: Facts and Figures

The United Nations Human Development Index ranks Haiti as the poorest country in the western hemisphere.  77% of the population lives below the US poverty line of $1.25/day. According to a UNICEF study, almost half of all primary school-age children in Haiti do not attend school, and Haitian public schools have the capacity to serve only one-quarter of the school age population. To read more about Haiti, click on any of the links below.

BBC News 

CDC in Haiti

US Embassy in Port Au Prince, Haiti