Northern Friends of Haiti is committed to our self-imposed requirement that all solutions we develop in the South Bayonnais Valley of Haiti must be Sustainable. This means solutions will have continuance; eventually being managed and maintained by members of the communities benefitting without requiring outside assistance. We believe the key components of Sustainability are Ownership, use of Local Resources and Education; Education being the paramount component.
Community education in many topics including health, nutrition, family planning, hygiene, water quality, sanitation approaches, erosion control, reforestation, agriculture and approaches to increased food production would greatly improve the lives of the 12,000, subsistence farming inhabitants of this valley. This education must occur at all age levels from preschool through adulthood and be presented in a manor most conducive to the varying levels of experience, education and manor in which people learn. We believe the education must be presented by local, familiar individuals who have the ability to teach and the trust and respect of the communities. These educators will require training, educational materials, ongoing support and a venue in which to teach. They will also need a solid curriculum combining the current cultural experience with improved information, approaches and techniques presented in a manor all may understand.
To help facilitate the development of community educational programs, Northern Friends of Haiti has partnered with the newly formed, Haitian association representing the entire valley, the Association for the Development of South Bayonnais, and conceptualized a project that will be the central venue for valley wide education. The project will consist of two (2) primary structures, on adjacent sites. Site #1 was previously deeded by the village to the Government of Haiti specifically for an elementary school. The project proposes to replace the existing structures (a dilapidated “UNICEF” tent and small wood frame & metal canopy) with a large School and Community Assembly Facility. There is currently no secondary education opportunity for the 3,000 + children residing in the valley. The Haitian Ministry of Education has committed to expanding the National School to include secondary education once the project is completed. Site improvements will also include rain collection and a large cistern; a solar array, battery storage, invertor and electrical distribution; composting latrines, a small athletic field for recreation and fruit bearing trees for shade.
The adjacent Site #2 has been donated to the community by a local family for a combined Administration/Dorm building and community gardens. The 1st floor of the proposed structure will house the offices, kitchen, storage and administrative meeting spaces for the National School and Community Education Programs. The second floor will contain dorm rooms, bathrooms and storage spaces to accommodate the visiting educational teams that will be supporting the Haitian community educators. The remainder of the ¾ acre site will be used as community gardens, an outdoor class room for the community agricultural education programs and as a tree nursery for a valley wide reforestation effort.
The budget for this project is slightly over $200,000 US. Northern Friends of Haiti has already received $70,000 (35%) in contributions and grants towards this effort. We are actively fundraising and submitting additional grant applications in order to reach our objective. The intended schedule has the Administrative/Dorm building completed by May, 2017, in time to receive the 1st visiting educational team from the University of Vermont. We would hope the school could be completed before September, 2017 for use when school commences in the fall of that year. In a valley as large (45 square kilometers, 17 villages, 12,000 inhabitants) and as remote (limited vehicle access, no public utilities, 25 kilometers from nearest urban area) as South Bayonnais the development of a central community facility providing hands on education as well as outreach programs throughout the valley is paramount. In addition, the opportunity to bring secondary education to a vast number of elementary school children will have lasting impact on the overall wellbeing and development of these communities.