Last Day in Haiti!

 February 28, 2013 — Lebrun Village, Haiti.

It is hard to put into words our last day in Haiti.
 
The day began with a celebration with all of the school children from the five different schools that are partnering with HavServe. They walked the long road to school, two by two, holding… hands, each wearing their character of education t-shirt. Respect-yellow, Honesty-blue, Compassion-red, Responsibility-green, Equality-orange, Citizenship-purple … these are the core values that team HavServe is teaching to more than 800+ children in the village of Lebrun. The teachers and their students were grateful to the HavServe volunteers and especially Carline and Kristin. Carline is the Co-Founder of  HavServe who three years ago began the partnership with the community of Lebrun. Kristin is a volunteer from Canada who has spent the last 6 months coordinating the teacher training program fot the 52+ teachers. HavServe’s primary goal is to provide access to a quality education and Kristin has done an extraordinary job doing just that! The children sang songs, and performed skits and recitations. It was really something to see!Thanks to the Ontario Gleaners, the HavServe volunteers served a small cup of soup and a slice of bread to nearly 800 students. It felt good to be part of something so positive and powerful, and I can tell you there were no leftovers!

The day ended with yet another celebration, this time honoring the teachers who were graduating from the teacher training program. They have put in a great deal of time and efforts over the last 6 months so Carline, Kristin and the rest of the volunteers wanted to show them our appreciation. The teachers and soccer coaches were each presented with a framed certificate of accomplishment. Their proud faces told the story better than I can!

The celebration ended with a generous meal of rice and beans with gravy, chicken and goat meat. The goat was even donated by one of the teachers. The HavServe volunteers served each of the teachers each and their families. Most of the teachers only ate a small amount on their plates so they could save some for later.  As I have observed so many times this week, food is scarce and they don’t know when it is coming again.So now we pack up and get ready to leave the Lebrun village.  As I leave, I look back on the week with fond memories and a sense of hope.  It is pitch black outside but the sky is lit up with bright shining stars!

Sixth Day In Haiti!

 February 27, 2013 — – Lebrun Village, Haiti.

Today was our sixth day in Haiti. We spent the morning observing in classrooms. I saw teachers really trying to put into practice what they have been learning in the teacher training classes. The teachers were interacting with their students singing, dancing and playing educational games. One of the classrooms was even painted bright blue and had some posters and other visuals displayed to improve the learning environment!

 
In the afternoon, we worked with the teachers doing some teacher training. One of the highlights was showing them a video that was taken yesterday of a teacher using music to teach his students French syllables. It was wonderful to see the expression on their faces as they saw themselves on the screen!
 
Finally, Emily (One of our Canadian volunteer) and Ezekiel (the volunteer being trained to care for the gardents) made even more progress with the vegetable garden. With a little guidance from Emily, Ezekiel was empowered to build the beds and construct a gate. Everything was made from the natural resources found in the village.
 
Progress is being made a little bit at a time.

Fifth Day In Haiti!

 February 26, 2013 — – Lebrun Village, Haiti.

Our fifth day in Haiti began with a big breakfast because we knew we had a long walk to the Larintrie Evangelic Community School to visit another school in another village. The walk took about 1.5 hours each way and was one hill after another. We had to walk along a very treacherous, rocky… trail in the hot sun, but we had plenty of water, full bellies and good hiking shoes. The school children ( even 4 -5 years old) walk the trail every day to and from school without any of the luxuries that we had. I really don’t know how they do it!As difficult as the walk to the school was, the condition of the school was even worse. The children are crowded into tiny spaces and it is dark and dingy. The kindergarten class was stuck in a dark depressing hole. All of us were pretty depressed on the walk home.The day took a wonderful turn when we returned to the Lebrun village and went to the HavServe library. The children were singing their lessons in the afternoon tutoring session led by a 6th grade teacher volunteer, Jean Franz Damuscat on the guitar and another volunteer named Pouchon teaching the class.

On another front, Ezekiel, a local Haitian man built the fence for a vegetable garden in one of the school which will serve as a pilot for several other gardens. The plan is to have gardens tended to by each of the five schools so they can provide a lunch for the students, totally sustained by each school without outside donations.

Finally, Cherline, a local woman teacher who does so much for the children, was able to make some real progress on rebuilding her dilapidated house. The expression on her face was truly priceless. She has worked hard and become a supervisor of the building. She even built her house per guidelines for earthquake design which we brought down with us (thanks again to Serge Bellegarde). She is now an empowered Haitian woman!

So, even though the day started off a bit depressing, in the end we were uplifted by the progress that is being made!

Fourth Day In Haiti!

February 25, 2013 — – Lebrun Village, Haiti.

Fourth day in Haiti spent working with grade 2 students teaching mathematics.
 
A bit tricky when you know a bit of French (thanks to Sr. Joan Marie some thirty years ago), a bit of Kreyol (thanks to Serge Bellegarde ). But somehow we made it …thru. Even though the room was dark and extremely overcrowded, the students were learning and working hard.
 
In the afternoon, we worked in the HavServe Community Learning Center tutoring students in grades 1-6 in their subjects. They worked on individual whiteboards, but the markers are running out. 15 students came voluntarily and stayed for two hours. They did not want to leave. They crave attention and positive interaction from adults.
 
PS… The iPad was a huge hit again, especially Fruit Ninja. Not so different from American and Canadian children.

Third Day In Haiti!

February 24, 2013 – Lebrun Village, Haiti.
 
Third day in day in Haiti began with another walk along the rocky trail to the Nan Sable Community School. We passed women and children walking barefoot carrying large bundles or buckets of water on their heads. Once at the school, we saw community volunteers making bricks to continue construction on the school. The men work barefoot in the hot sun, each man participating in the process. Several of the local Haitian children were playing with our IPAD. It has turned out to be a wonderful teaching tool for all of us… Each one learning from each other.
 
Finally, Stanley, one of the local orphan Haitian boys, said something very profound to us… When asked what the most urgent need for the kids of Haiti is he replied…”they are hungry… Some walk very far every day to go to school and they cannot eat.  Me, I get some here and there, but some do not eat. They need to eat!”

Second Day In Haiti!

February 23, 2013 – Lebrun Village, Haiti.
 
Had a wonderful second full day in Haiti. Spent the morning hiking on a rocky trail to the Nan Sable Community School that is under construction by Team HavServe for the local children. Some of the most beautiful landscape I’ve ever seen … mountains, waterfalls, mango trees, almond trees. Passed by many local wildlife including cows, donkeys, chickens, horses. Finished the day watching some local boys play soccer.
 
The people here have an amazing energy and spirit!

First Day In Haiti!

February 22, 2013 – Lebrun Village, Haiti.
 
Spent the day touring some schools in Haiti in the village of Lebrun, and working with the teachers doing training. There is a lot to be done, but we are on our way.

Promoting Access and Quality Education for ALL children Millennium Development Goal 2: Achieving Universal Primary Education

As children, many of us faced challenges in our educational journey. From waking up early in the morning, to dealing with the stress of homework loads and examinations – let’s be honest – it was not a pleasure! But being serious, please take a while and try to imagine – how would our lives look like right now if we had not graduated from primary school? Would we be the same person?

It is indisputable that education shapes us as human beings. While attending school, be it primary, secondary, or university education, we not only get to know book facts, but also learn how to operate in a community of people, how to achieve goals, and how to deal with successes and disappointments; also, we make friends and we discover our strengths and weaknesses. School is a fundament on which we build our future.

Unfortunately, many Haitian children are deprived of this fundament. And this is not their choice.

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While the Haitian Constitution theoretically stipulates the right to free education for everyone, the reality is cruel. According to analyses (e.g. by Pulitzer Center on Crisis Responding), the government is not able to meet the needs of the population and the 10% of the federal budget spent on elementary and secondary schools is not enough. Only 21.5% of the population receive a secondary level education and 1.1% graduate from a university. Almost 33% of children between the ages of 6 and 12 (500,000 children) do not attend school at all. This percentage is even higher (40%) for children in the age 5-15, which accounts for approximately one million children.

Facilitating accessible quality education in Haiti is a multifaceted process, which requires actions in many different spheres simultaneously. Not only is there a lack of qualified teachers and school facilities, but also a problem with unemployment and underemployment. This causes many parents to face a serious challenge in covering the costs of their children’s schooling. In turn, the lack of education becomes a big impediment to finding a decent job in the future. Children living in the rural areas are particularly disadvantaged. The earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010, to a large extent, exacerbated the already poor condition of the country.

 As various problems reinforce each other, there is a need for a joint comprehensive action, which will break the vicious circle and place the country o

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 n a path of sustainable human development. Education is not only the aim in itself. It is also a prerequisite which will facilitate further progress including economic growth, poverty reduction, and population health. There is still much to do. According to the latest United Nations Human Development Index ranking from March 14th, Haiti ranked  161 of 185 countries: http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/countries/profiles/hti.html, meaning that it is one of the least developed countries in the world.

 So, if there is something you think you could do to influence the future of Haitian people, please do not hesitate longer to implement it. Please take action, be it a sponsorship for a rural child, an idea for income-generating activity for its parents, or a design for educational training or your own hands to build a school – It will not only change the life of a child in Haiti, but it will also enrich your own.

 

Cyclone Isaac Makes Those Of Us At Home Remember Those Volunteering In Haiti

 Faith.  How much do you risk on “faith” for the benefit of another?

 HavServe volunteers are all unpaid. The workers give countless hours to bettering the lives of families in the smallvillageofLebrun,Haiti.

 As this blog is being written, many HavServe volunteers have traveled to the smallCaribbeanisland in the face of a cyclone.  Carline Brice, our fearless leader, works tirelessly with the faith that the efforts brought forth by volunteers will improve the education of the children and the lives of all villagers.  Her faith and efforts are without question.

The dictionary defines faith: 

  • Confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another’s ability.
  • Belief that is not based on proof:  He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
  • Belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.
  • Belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc: to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.
  • A system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Mormon faith; the Jewish faith. 

As this blog is written, deaths have been reported from Tropical Storm Isaac, which passed overHaiti.  Members of the HavServe team remaining safe at home in theUnited Stateshave been sending exchanging emails, praying for the well-being of Carline and others in Lebrun.

Wherever Carline Brice is huddled as the storm brought flooding rains to the island (which was pummeled by earthquakes in 2010), she has “faith” that a multi-million dollar education center will find funding.  She believes with unquestioning heart and “confidence and trust” that the HavServe team will “find the money.”

HavServe’s mission is far greater than the faith of one talented leader.  It is the faith of and collective strength of an army of people, around the globe.    

There is Kristin Derry fromCanada, who has traveled to Lebrun.  She is responsible of instructing teachers.  Kristin has volunteered to leave comfort and security behind for the unknown.  She will embrace a group of Haitian teachers for the next 6 months.

Without the services of educators such as Kristen Derry, there would be little hope that education in the small village could be pushed forward.  Nevertheless, with Kristin’s faith, the probability of success is outstanding.  Her 6 months of service will pay dividends for students for decades.

Then there is architect Gavan Lee ofIreland.  No pay. No award. Just a strong belief in humanity. Gavan has completed the initial design of the new education center.  He and engineer Christopher Wright will oversee the construction of the building.  All the effort is based upon the faith that the new center, together with trained teachers, shall benefit villagers.

Attempting to point out all the individuals, who volunteer their time and money for people, who there have never met, is impossible.  What is a fact? HavServe and the volunteers take daily steps in faith for a better life for villagers who face earthquakes, cyclones and poverty every day.    

By the time readers devour this blog, cyclone Issac is history.  We, the collective volunteers, have faith that Carline and the village are safe.  Furthermore, we pledge support to the meritorious goals, including the education center.

In the days and weeks to come, HavServe will post floor plans and architectural renderings of the proposed center.  Staffers will prepare budgets, including furniture and school supplies.    

Then the hard work of acquiring the funding:  the faith of a donor who understands the benefits of a center–which shall become the foundation for a village’s future.

Announcing a Strategic Partnership to Improve Classroom Instruction in Haiti MDG2: Achieve Universal Primary Education

September 2012, Maryland –  WebFirst, Inc. and the HavServe Volunteer Network (HavServe) have formed a strategic partnership to improve classroom instruction and better evaluate teachers by collecting student data in rural communities in Haiti, using mobile technology for the upcoming school year. WebFirst will be designing, developing and implementing an elementary school data system for rural communities in collaboration with HavServe in Haiti and will expand data collection for multiple student outcomes and help educators and stakeholders find areas for improvement.

The goal is to improve data collection and analysis, which is needed to comply with the Millennium Development Goals 2 in Haiti and HavServe CEO, Joyce M. Hunter believes it will accomplish three major goals on the country’s education reform agenda:

  •  The data collection will help evaluate the effectiveness of teachers and administrators,
  •  Provide information to help legislators make well-informed decisions and
  • Predict primary school students difficulties to improve learning and encourage career readiness among students.”

The data also will be available for legislators and other stakeholders, so they can address educational issues with an accurate picture of student challenges and performance in rural communities. Carline Brice, HavServe, Executive and Founder along with Kristin Derry, HavServe Education Program Coordinator will launch the data collection project in September 2012 and look forward to the metrics it will produce. “I am proud of the work of HavServe in Haiti to promote access to primary education for all children and we are working  to develop a comprehensive strategic plan for education reform in rural communities in Haiti,” Ms. Brice comments on the program. “Utilizing mobile technology and the use of high quality data will increase the ability of stakeholders to improve instruction and student outcomes.”  “We are very excited to be working with HavServe in applying mobile technologies to helping increase access to education in Haiti,” said Sanjay Patel, President and CEO of WebFirst, Inc. 

“We feel strongly that mobile will play a key role in helping organizations to streamline data collection and assessment efforts, while increasing their ability to deploy resources where they are needed most.”  WebFirst and HavServe look forward to this partnership that will empower villagers with the education, training, and basic services necessary for them to play an ever-increasing role in determining their own futures and creating a sustainable Haiti.