East Bay Sanctuary Covenant sponsors the Haiti Rural Education Project.
The children of Haiti are the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. They are also the children of a proud, heroic nation: in 1804, after centuries of suffering, Haiti liberated herself from French colonial oppression, and became the only free republic in the world created by former slaves. Today, the people of Haiti are suffering again. The most vulnerable of them are orphans whose parents were victims of political oppression.
Because of extreme poverty, many children have to leave their families and find food and shelter as restaveks – children who live in other people’s households as unpaid domestic help, often in virtual slavery. They are trapped in a cycle of poverty and suffering.
The only way to break that cycle is to create an educational program that would focus not only on literacy, but also on providing training in important skills and on revitalizing the entire community. Such a program would prevent young people from leaving to seek work in the cities, and often becoming victims of poverty and crime.
This is why the Rural Education Project in the Milot/Cap Haitien area is so important to the future of the children and their communities. The project was started during the Aristide Presidency by the elected Mayor of Milot, Moise Jean Charles. Under his leadership, the local peasant association and other community groups created nine schools to serve 2,700 children in the remote rural areas in which families were too poor to send their children to the very few existing schools.
Under the Aristide administration, the project was receiving some funds from the government in spite of the aid embargo imposed by the U.S. in 2000. After the coup, one of the first acts of the un-elected new government was to abolish the Ministry of Literacy established by President Aristide. Even though the new government was promised $1.8 billion in aid, the funds for Rural Education Project were cut off. In the present political climate, this crucially important project will not survive without help from the outside.
The primary needs are money for teachers’, directors’ , and custodians’ salaries; school supplies (pencils, notebooks, etc); construction of latrines and permanent buildings. In many of the schools, all the children meet in one room buildings made of wood and leaves and with no toilets. School lunch programs used to be funded by the government. President Aristide believed that food is a human right. He used to say “lape nan tet, lape nan vant,” (There is no peace of mind without peace in the stomach).
In spite of the lack of funding, the schools continue their work because of the dedication of teachers and directors who work without pay, and have to travel to and from school at their own expense. They desperately need help to be able to survive. Because Haiti is such a poor country – teachers salaries range from forty to one hundred U.S. dollars per year – even a small donation will make a great difference.
All children deserve a future. Please help EBSC send hope to the children of Haiti who have already suffered so much.
If you would like to print out this brochure to give to family and friends, click here.
Make checks payable to EBSC (write in memo “Rural Education Project”) and send to:
East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, P.O. Box 4670, Berkeley, CA 94704