“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world,” -Nelson Mandela
Since 2014, Health for Haiti has partnered with the local school in Grande Saline to help provide quality education for the children who live in this community. Over the past few years, we have seen the school grow from about twenty children meeting in the church to nearly two hundred students and ten teachers working together in five classrooms.
In addition to providing school scholarships for individual students, Health for Haiti staff and students have shared their skills to bring basic health care, preventative dental services, professional development for teachers, computers and digital literacy classes, sewing machines and sewing classes, a school garden/nutrition initiative, and high quality art and science supplies and activities.
As the school continues to grow, we are seeing some bold and exciting changes for the upcoming school year. Last year’s graduating sixth grade class will be the very first to stay on and begin secondary school in Grande Saline. This means that instead of having to walk about an hour to continue to attend school, they will stay within their own community. They said, “We are proud of our school, and we see our future here.”
This change, and along with other new initiatives, were outlined in a school plan that was designed this summer by the principal and teachers in Grande Saline. The plan was designed to be a partnership between the school and Health for Haiti. We will share our resources and work together to support the school and help to transform it into a true “center of excellence” in rural Haiti. The teachers and students have outlined their vision for the school, and we hope to be a part of helping to make their vision a reality.
To better keep pace with the continued progress and new vision in Grande Saline, we are making some changes to our existing “Helping Children School Scholarship Program”. In the past we matched donors with children in need, and the donor helped to pay yearly tuition and purchase a uniform and shoes for the child. The cost of this sponsorship was about $50 a year. This model helped about thirty children to attend school in Grande Saline for the past few years.
However, after many discussions with the school administrators and the families in Grande Saline, we have decided it is time to change to a new and more holistic school scholarship plan. Basically, we need to find a way to move from helping a few children to helping all of the children.
There are so many children in need in Grande Saline, there is no easy or fair way to select individual children to receive scholarship support. The process we have been using has put a difficult burden on school administrators, and could sometimes lead to hurt feelings, misunderstanding, and even conflict. We hope that by moving to a model where donor support can go to the entire school, we can make the program beneficial to all of the local families.
With our new program, the same scholarship donations of $50/year will be used together to assist the entire school instead of being used for only one child. In addition to partial assistance with tuition and uniforms for multiple children, donations will also help with purchasing supplies and paying teachers. There will even be a small fund set aside for emergencies.
As part of the new scholarship program, we will share formal reports and updates from the entire school twice a year (December and May). We are proud of the fact that many of our scholarship donors are former Health for Haiti students, and they have stayed connected with the community in Grande Saline by participating in the scholarship program. We are grateful that the relationship between our SUNY Broome students and the students in Haiti has continued, and even as we transition to our new model, we will work to keep them updated about the children that they have supported.
In addition, the Health for Haiti 2020 class will continue our ongoing efforts to bring microscopy, anatomy and physiology and arts education to Grande Saline, to grow our school nutrition/agriculture initiative, and to continue to provide high quality dental and medical services that will help keep children healthy and strong.
If this is a plan you would like to support for the upcoming 2019-2020 school year, checks can be made out to “Health for Haiti” and sent to the address below. Please include a note saying that your donation is to support the “Helping Children School Scholarship Program”.
We look forward to sharing updates during the next school year. Thanks to everyone who has supported the school in Grande Saline!
As Pastor Berlando said during our last visit, “Thank you for investing in my young people. In the future, you are going to see a great result.”
SUNY Broome Faculty-Student Association
Attn: Health for Haiti
P.O. Box 1017
Binghamton, New York 13902