Reporting on my latest trip to Haiti:
So the land owner decided that he wouldn't sell less than 5 centiem of land and we have only raised enough money for 1 centiem. It also seemed like a good idea for me and OFPADAH to build up our experience before we start building a whole new school. So instead we decided to pay the school fees of 20 children who has not been able to attend school because they could not afford it. It cost $125 a year to send a Haitian child to a primary school. We are trying to make Hope of Haiti into an official student organization in Mount Holyoke College, so that students can continue to fundraise throughout the year and support the students of OFPADAH. We are also looking for other organizations and sponsors as well, since there are over 200 children registered with OFPADAH who could use the help.
I also had the chance to network with some Korean missionaries and NGOs. Most of them are working in the education sector. Missionary Kang Myunggu who lives in Tabarre is trying to create libraries in the local schools and town centers. Most of the schools I visited do not have a library, and each student has to buy the required books in the market. The books cost quite a lot in Haitian standards. They are $5 -10 US dollars on the street! In a country where only 50% of children go to primary school and adult literacy rate is only 60%, reading is considered a luxury.
So I am launching a BOOK DRIVE to collect as many English, French, and Spanish books as possible to ship to Haiti. Also, we need to fundraise to buy Creole books in Haiti. In this way, the Haitian children and teachers will have more resources to learn to read their first language. We are also supporting the local economy by buying Creole books in Haiti. Missionary Kang is already decorating the libraries and building the book shelves. He is planning to send a 20ft x 12ft x 12ft container to my house in New York sometime in August. I hope that we will be able to collect the books they need and ship it to Haiti as soon as possible. So please clean out your attics and basements of children's books that you no longer need, and send them to build brand new libraries in Haiti!
How you can help: If you are in the NYC area, you can contact me at 516 312 9418 or email@example.com and I can go pick up the books from you! If you are elsewhere, check the shipping price before you send the books to my address, and you can always donate through our crowdrise page so we can buy the French and Creole books.
Tomorrow I am returning to Haiti. I will be there for a month, the longest time so far. Thanks to so many people's support and trust in me, this was possible. I thought about joining fellow students from Mount Holyoke College and Doug Albertson, the leader of Opportunity for Communities on their trip to visit schools they support in Les Cayes but couldn't afford it. But at the last minute, my father handed me an envelope containing $1000 in cash, a gift from a family friend, Ms. Yang, who has always supported me when I used to go on mission trips with my church. This will allow me to perhaps visit Les Cayes and also visit the ONDPS orphanage in Croix de Bouquet run by Father Jonel Bourdeau. I am so excited to get involved and learn how I can better assist these two other organizations. My heart is still in the beautiful village of Meyotte though, because this is the community where I fell in love with Haiti and committed myself. I am determined to build a school in honor of my good friend John Peterson Raymond who started this project and got me involved in the vision of bettering his community. Please pray me, the leaders of OFPADAH and ONDPS, and the people of Haiti.
I am returning to Haiti in June to talk more with OFPADAH, buy land, and start building. I am
The last few months have been quite busy. I met many people who share similar visions for Haiti.
I found Sandra Jacques, a rising Junior at Mount Holyoke College. She is a Haitian American from Providence, RI. She is very passionate about this project and will continue leading Hope of Haiti after I graduate this May.
Through Jean Arnaud of UMass EDGE, I met Father Joseph, who is the founder of University of Fondwa in Jacmel, Haiti.
He believes that Haitian youth should be the agents of positive change in Haitian community through engaging them in sustainable development in rural areas where 70% of Haitian population live. Jean and I are thinking about bringing Haitian college students of agroeconomy to build a community garden for OFPADAH's school.
We also found great new partners, including Opportunities for Communities, a non-profit that supports two schools in Les Cayes. They are organizing a trip in June so I am going with them to visit their schools and see how they are running. I am trying to recruit fellow college students to come with me to Haiti. You are welcome to apply to join us on this trip.
Finally, A few generous people from my own Korean American church in Long Island collectively donated $1000 dollars.
Also, H.O.P.E. Ministry board at St. Cecilia's Church in Wilbraham, MA donated $1,000 to Hope of Haiti. Thank you!!!
We also had the spoken word artist, StaceyAnne Chin, promote our cause during her show at Mount Holyoke College.
We also did some fundraising through events organized by Black Students Union at Amherst College.
It seems that step by step, we are nearing our fundraising goal. However, the harder part is using this money as efficiently and wisely as possible in Haiti. First of all, we will have a community meeting to make sure that the school's design is what the people want, establish the administration and hire teachers of the school. We are planning to buy 129 square feet of land for $2500. This price has been negotiated with the landowner many months ago. Then we will get the best deals for construction materials, organize local people for labor, and start building. It won't be a grand school yet, just two classrooms that can hold about 50 students. However, it is wise to start small and learn from the experience. No matter the size of the classroom, I hope the education that happens in this school will be the highest quality possible. There's so much to learn and do! I hope you will keep remembering us and join us to make this dream into a better reality.
While raising awareness about this project building a school in Haiti, I connected with some amazing people in the Five Colleges in Western Massachusetts. Jean Arnaud is the founder of PEACH at UMass Amherst. They are trying to build a collaborative movement between US university students, University of Fondwa in Haiti, and Haitian schools and orphanages by creating a study abroad program at University of Fondwa on social entrepreneurship and sustainable community development. Jean grew up in Haiti and he loves his country and thought about how to empower youth and improve communities for a long time. We were both quite excited to learn how similar our visions were. We are going to work together with OFPADAH to bring resources, knowledge, and young energy to build a green school and a community garden that will grow the food for school feeding programs. We are both planning to visit Haiti again this summer to make this idea materialize. It's a big vision to bring sustainable development to many communities in Haiti, but it has to start with one community. Meyotte seems like a great place to start.
I also met Leila at Smith College who has been raising awareness about Haiti on her campus since she visited Haiti two years ago. She is also 100% in our project and now she is talking with the deans of Smith College to gain support for Hope of Haiti project. Building a school in Haiti would be fantastic opportunity for college students interested in development, education, sustainable design, etc . to put what they learned into practice. OFPADAH school.can accept volunteer teachers from US, who will bring both inspiration and opportunities for the children.
I also found my successor who will lead Hope of Haiti project at Mount Holyoke College after I graduate. Her name is Sandra Jaques, a Haitian American from Rhode Island. She is super excited to be involved in this cause. It is much easier to face challenges and overcome them when you are not alone, but with many like-minded committed friends.
My name is Haeinn, a Korean American from Long Island, New York and a senior with a major called Faith and Science in Mount Holyoke College. In January 2011, I traveled to Haiti with three other Mount Holyoke students: Sharon from Korea/China, Tebo from Botswana, and Mervnide, a Haitian American from Boston.
I organized this pilot service trip to help a Haitian grassroots organization called OFPADAH build a school for impoverished children in the community of Meyotte, and to provide an educational experience for both Mount Holyoke students and Haitian children. I was connected with OFPADAH through its founder, John Peterson Raymond, the first time I went to Haiti the week after the earthquake in January 2010. When John first asked me if I would like to help his organization build a school, I knew this was going to be a long term commitment and my portion of reconstructing Haiti. After I met many orphans and children in the community who did not have access to schools, and ordinary Haitian people who came together to develop their own community, I couldn’t refuse this opportunity to help. So I gathered support from my school and Reader to Reader Inc., and decided to return to Haiti with this group.
As soon as we left behind snowy New England, we had to get used to being uncomfortable, from sleeping in Florida airport to being bounced around in a tap taps (Haitian public transportation) on very rocky roads. We stayed in the house of a Korean missionary Simon Kim, who has been working in Haiti for 8 years and supports the children of Cite Soleil, the poorest slum in Port Au Prince. He took us to visit the children and school in a ghetto within Cite Soleil called “ti Kanada,” or “little Canada.” We had to cross a bridge over a river of sewage to the school’s entrance. About 20 children were studying in a tin-roofed two classroom with one teacher who was also the principal. The children were beautiful and bright in their pink uniforms and smiles.
We also visited an orphanage in a village called Meyer. Father Bourdeau Jonel who is a Haitian Catholic priest has been running this orphanage in a dilapidated rented building for three years. The orphans were absolutely precious. They were such talented artists and by the end of the math lesson, many of them could count up to twenty in English. Father Jonel told me that our visit had made a very special day for the children and asked me to help him find sponsors and volunteers in the US. There are so many orphanages like this that I visited in Haiti, but Father Jonel struck me as someone who has true compassion and really wanted to change the lives of these orphans. He told me they had already lost a child to cholera. But after a missionary installed a water filter, the children are able to drink and wash in safe water.
I also had meetings with OFPADAH to discuss the buying or renting the land for the school, cost of construction, and teacher salaries. We came up with a contract that defined their role and OFPADAH in this project. OFPADAH also gathered about 80 children in a church in Petionville for us to meet. First thing we did was introduce ourselves and then we did a hand-raising survey. Who goes to school, who doesn’t go to school I asked. Many of the students attended school, but only for a few months of the year because of the high tuition. There were also street children who had never been to school.
Our team taught English, math, cholera prevention and treatment, to the children. We verbally tested them on some important concepts they had learned and rewarded them for participation. For the children older than 10 years, I also taught basic sexual health and we were able to get at some meaningful discussion about how to prevent HIV/AIDS. We also did arts and craft, drawing and finger painting to explore creatively what they had learned. The children’s artworks were mostly what you would expect from kids their age, but their subject matter that showed what children in Haiti see much, such as palm trees, helicopters and cholera. The children were so enthusiastic learners and they were all full of dreams of a better future. I think that a high quality school that will provide an affordable education to every child, especially the orphans and children of refugees is very needed in this community.
Overall, this trip grew me very much through all the challenges I faced. I got to taste the unpredictability of tomorrow and feel the joy and gratitude for being alive today, at this moment, like the children I met. There were risks I could not predict or control, difficult cultural barriers to negotiate, mistakes and some bad luck as well. So I learned to be more resourceful, patient and resilient from obstacles including traffic jams, communication difficulties due to dead phones, long meetings with language barriers, and my bag being stolen. All these experiences will prepare me better for future work in Haiti.
Haiti to me is an absolutely fascinating place rich in culture, history, and work to be done. This beautiful Caribbean nation proud of being the first black republic of the world faced so much oppression from colonialism and neoliberalism, still suffers form much misunderstanding and exploitations. Haitians deserve much more respect than pity for their resilience in overcoming so much to just live. The foreign aid efforts need to better coordinate with Haitians partners and support existing Haitian community organizations like OFPADAH and Father Jonel’s orphanage to provide education and loving support for the most vulnerable children. I believe it is each of our duty to respond to the sad realities of the world, by trying to imagine what it would be like to be a Haitian child for three seconds, and take the next step to do something about it.
Merry Christmas folks! To my college friends, congrats on surviving the finals.
Hope of Haiti is lauching a holiday fundraising campaign: we need to raise $3000 by January 5th, so while we are in Haiti from January 6th to January 16th, we will be able to purchase the land for the school. I want to make sure that this transaction gets done right. I am trying to talk to some Haitian professionals in order to comprend the complicated procedure better.
Reader to Reader gave $200 to OFPADAH as a Christmas gift. I am also going to donate as much as I can once I get paid for work study job at college. I encourage you to please donate what you can on our Crowdriser page:
I spent a whole day stuffing Mount Holyoke College's professors' mailboxes with letters asking for donations.
The package includes my personal letter, a copy of a letter written and illustrated by Haitian children that I brought back from my last trip in August, an official Hope of Haiti Brochure, a tax deductible donation form and return envelop to send your checks. If you would like to recieve this snail letter from me, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 516 312 9418.
Mesi beacoup! (If you speak Creole and would like to tutor me, please let me know!)
Updates: Hope of Haiti has officially joined Reader to Reader, a 501(C)3 literacy organization, who has agreed to serve as the fiscal sponsor for this project. Haeinn, Carol, Tebo, Mervnide, and Sharon are going to Haiti from January 5th to 16th. We are planning to meet with OFPADHA and really try to get the tent school started. We need $2500 to buy the land where we can build a school. While we are there we are planning to teach the students some English, math, sexual health, hygiene, and useful information for preventing cholera. We are also planning to bring art supplies and do arts and craft with the children. We will bring some of their artworks back with us to exhibit at the World Art Show that will take place in Mount Holyoke College Blanchard Art Gallery in February, 2011. We are also going to do some major fundraising during the holiday season by sending personal letters to our family and friends. Please help spread the word for our cause!
A immigration-size luggage is packed, A sturdy backpack, poncho, and rainboots. It's raining a lot in Haiti. I will be arriving there at noon today. Thank you so much for your prayers and support. Please continue to pray for me and the people of Haiti, that everything will go well. God leads us all.
Updates from Haiti: John has found a lawyer and an architect in Haiti who agreed to talk with us about constructing the school building. We must first get land. I will talk with them when I visit Haiti to discuss how much the project will cost.
I also found a used laptop for $100, a used projector for $200 on craigslist and made my mom drive me up to Westchester to get it. I bought the projector from a family church who donated a screen too, but it's so big that I think I will ship it to Haiti when there is a building to install it.
I also bought school supplies with money donated by my uncle and scholarship from Arumdaun church.
About 50 notebooks, 150 pens, a box of pencils, geometry figures, construction paper, scissors, and various workbooks...
All the stuff is piled up in my room now, ready to be packed.
I also thought about bringing some beans and sweet potato to Haiti with me. 98% of Haiti's land is deforested because people cut down trees for firewood. A sustainable future requires making that land usable again, so that people can grow their own food. Sweet potatoes are the most nutritious, tenacious, and easy to grow crop. I read about the founder of Canaan Agriculture School, an incredible agrarian research and education institute in Korea, who changed acres and acres of wasteland into fertile farmland. Everytime he opened a new farm, the first crop he would plant was the sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are also indigenous to South America so it certainly won't be an invasive species in Haiti.
So I think it would be very helpful to grow a community garden around the school. It would provide food and work for the students, and a symbol of hope.
The latest email from John... The construction is set to begin on October 4th!
What do you think about selling Haitian art to raise funds?
Got any artsy friends or cultural art connoisseurs? Or if you are interested in buying a beautiful piece of art that reflects colorful and vibrant culture Haiti, please contact us!
I am in Haiti now and everything is ok.
I kmow places where you can buy art of Haiti, and i think it's a good
idea fundraise money for the building. Know that i have found a lawyer
and learned about the process of getting permission for the building,
it's not that difficult.
You'll meet him when you come. And i am still working on finding
someone to design the building.
I have contacted a organization named LDS CHARITY, they will give us
food for the children. So we'll be able to give food to the children
everyday at the school. If you still have room, remember to bring
notebooks for the children.
We haven't find the place for the school yet, but anyway, according
the haitian government, on october 4th we're starting.