Since 1988, the Haitian Education and Leadership Program (HELP) has provided scholarships to high performing students throughout Haiti based solely on merit. HELP is still going strong and recently upgraded its website with support from the Mastercard Foundation. It may well be that the only activity that counts as "sustainable development" is education. Knowledge and skills can’t be taken away. In a country where over 40% of the population is under the age of fourteen, education empowers individuals to improve themselves, their communities, and their country. More information about HELP follows.
In the weeks to come, I’ll provide updates on recovery efforts in Haiti sector by sector. Why start with education? After an emergency or a natural disaster, schools provide an opportunity to protect children physically and psychologically. It re-establishes a sense of routine, stability, and above all, hope for a better future. Technical and vocational education will be critical for developing a new generation of skilled workers and leaders. Without educational reform, Haiti’s recovery and long term development will be held back.
This week marked six months since the earthquake. According to President Preval, it also marked the week that the emergency phase ended and reconstruction began. Yet at the same time residents of the Corrail Cesselesse camp were struggling with the consequences of a rain storm that destroyed up to 300 tents and caused 1,700 to seek emergency shelter. With the rainy season underway, the situation is precarious for the displaced. Security, especially for women and children, is still a major concern. Is this an emergency operation, a reconstruction effort, or both?
Right now, the priority is saving lives by ensuring access to food, water, and health care. Recovery will take many years and the assistance of the international community will be required in order to do so. But what kind of asssistance will be most effective? The New York Times, in its blog series "Room for Debate", asked a number of individuals connected to Haiti for their thoughts on what kind of aid should be provided and how. They may have very different beliefs, backgrounds, and perspectives but all care for Haiti. Taken together, their feedback is interesting food for thought that should be taken into account now and over the long term.
Rough roads, sporadic electricity, out-dated ports, and rural areas in need of irrigation. Haiti needs Haitian engineers badly. The prerequisite is students who understand and have a passion for math and science. In January 2007, a group of Cap Haitian students (Team Citadel), with the support of Mark Moorman, a Haitian Businessman, and Rotary International, participated in the First Lego League Robotics Challenge in Florida. In April 2009, they again competed in Atlanta. Some of these students may one day become leaders in addressing their country's considerable infrastructure needs.
The Haitian Education and Leadership Program (HELP), which provides merit and need based scholarships for Haiti’s top high school graduates, will hold its second annual fundraising event in Washington, DC on Friday, July 10th. The event will feature music, cocktails, Haitian food, and speeches from HELP alumni. If you’d like to be a part of this event, please register here by July 1st. Copied below is a recent IPS article on HELP's efforts to recruit talented students in rural areas and attached is an invite and fact sheet.
The Haitian Education and Leadership Program (HELP) is Haiti's largest provider of scholarships for talented youth who would not otherwise be able to afford a higher education. Digicel, a major supporter of education programs, has taken note and provided HELP a $10,000 grant as well as two new phone lines with $1,200 of prepaid talk time. In addition, an anonymous donor has recently offered HELP a $25,000 challenge grant. This is an excellent opportunity for HELP to expand educational opportunities to a new generation of future community, corporate, and government leaders.
Most would agree increasing trade is important for Haiti's long term development. Where people disagree concerns what kind, how much, and where. Haiti has never been an easy place to invest, but it has enormous potential due to its large multinational Diaspora, proximity to the United States, vast labor pool, and now the passage of Hope II. Given these advantages, is Haiti open for business?
The Haitian Education and Leadership Program (HELP) provides merit based scholarships to high performing students, no matter their socio-economic status. Many graduates have gone on to be health care providers, educators, and community organizers. Last week, former President Bill Clinton and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon visited the HELP Haiti Center. Both Clinton and Ki-Moon said they were impressed and inspired by what they saw at HELP and pledged to remain engaged. As Clinton put it, programs such as this one show success is possible in Haiti.
If you are (very) interested in Haiti, consider joining Corbett's List, easily the most active Haiti listserv. The listserv carried an email today about Poto Mitan, an impressive online repository of educational resources in Kreyol - everything from poetry to proverbs to computer terminology. It could be a good resource for Haitian educators or for people who want to learn Kreyol. Links to several of the items featured on Poto Mitan are listed below.