“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.” – Margaret Mead
Today we proudly inaugurated the first Aid Still Required Academy in Deuxieme Plaine, Haiti, for 119 children, 30 of whom are orphans. The original inspiration came from the local community itself, a few hundred farm families earning an average of $1.00 per day, with a literacy rate of about 5%. When we met them in 2014, this group had already organized itself into a registered association (Organisation des Pecheurs de Cuperlier – OPK), had initiated a fishing cooperative that was doing very well, and had built a rudimentary schoolhouse (below) staffed by its few literate adults, many of whom hadn’t finished elementary school themselves.
It was easy to be moved by their motivation and intelligence, so we promised to build them a proper school – 3,000 sq ft with six large classrooms, one spacious meeting hall, and movable walls so that the entire space could be utilized for events (Haitians love celebrations!). Since it’s the only formidable building for many miles, the school will also serve as a community center as well as a refuge in hurricanes and other disasters.
Our strategy is always to work with locals and build from within. The school was built and engineered by locals. ASR is also financing the teachers through the three-year national accreditation program. Remarkably only 20% of the teachers in Haiti have any formal training at all. By the end of 2017, our teaching staff will fully accredited.
Only about 5% of Haitians ever graduate high school. Through researching the job market and speaking with sources in Haiti’s different sectors, we’ve determined that a high school graduate who is fluent in English, French and computers is qualified for the most sought-after positions as well as, of course, university training either in Haiti or abroad. Beginning in the Fall of 2016 we will install a new, solar-powered computer lab and a library with hundreds of books in three languages, and begin professional English and computer classes for the students and teachers.