The Atlanta Church Group (ACG) began collaborations in Atlanta and in Haiti to build a school in the central plateau of Haiti. Participants from 3 Atlanta churches--North Decatur Presbyterian, Emory Presbyterian and Good Shepherd Presbyterian--organized to lead this effort.
Partners with the ACG are also deeply invested in this collaboration.
· The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, based in Boston, has joined with us to raise funds, sponsor mission trips and coordinate planning with MPP. UUSC has built 2 EcoVillages.
· Mouvment Paysan Papaye (MPP) is a Haitian agricultural cooperative that has provided the vision, land and coordination for building six EcoVillages and the school. UUSC and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Program funded construction of the EcoVillages.
· Mark Hare is the PCUSA mission worker attached to MPP. He provides communication support and counsel as we partner with MPP. Through Mark’s effort, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance funds built 4 of the 6 EcoVillages.
The Vision. ACG commissioned MPP to develop a vision and plan for the school. MPP produced a lengthy document that described a financially self-sufficient school that would serve 400+ students, from pre-school through high school, who live in and around the EcoVillages. The report explained educational requirements in Haiti and analyzed phased construction and operational costs. Proposed costs for Phase 1 exceeded the resources available to ACG.
Getting Started. ACG asked UUSC to collaborate in a smaller scale Phase 1. We jointly proposed a first year budget of $90,000 -- $45,000 each – to fund building 3 classrooms, a well, toilet and one year’s operations. After consulting with their engineering firm, MPP accepted the plan and construction began in July. In response to cost overruns, two members of the ACG group contributed an additional $10,000.
Website. In August ACG launched a website (haitiecovillageschool.org )as a primary communication tool. It delivers latest information about the school, reflections of visitors, photos, videos and more.
School Opens. Despite the late start to construction, the school secured a Director and hired 3 certified teachers. It opened in October for grades 1-3 with 45 students. Two weeks later a delegation from ACG and UUSC visited the school, investigated the construction, interviewed teachers, parents and students, and discussed 2015 plans with the leadership of MPP. (Reports and reflections from this team can be found on the website.)
Reaching Our Goal. By December ACG reached its goal of $55,000. There were 102 individual donors, plus funds from church fund-raising initiatives.