Cima School of Hope
Within a few weeks of the devastating earthquake that struck southern Haiti in 2010, thousands of people, having no place to live, left their ruined structures and traveled to northern Haiti. Many had family in the Cap-Haitien area, or assumed that the city, the second-largest in Haiti, would provide job and housing opportunities. For many, those dreams were unfulfilled, and the area was overrun with more people than it could house, feed or employ…but there are signs that recovery is coming, albeit slowly. A courageous young woman, herself “orphaned” by the earthquake, took it upon herself to travel north from Port-au-Prince bringing up to 15 young children at a time who had no one else to care for them. Eventually finding herself and the children literally at “the end of the road” in the small, rural village of Cima, about two miles north of Limonade, and about one mile from the ocean. The villagers took the children into their homes and, after many months of trying to get some additional help, decided that most were there to stay.
Under the leadership of a trained Limonade teacher, with family roots in Cima, Ernise Petigny contacted Sonje Ayiti for some help, and soon two large boxes from UNICEF arrived, containing a 10’ x 20’ canvas tent…and Cima Primary School was begun. The Cima community stepped in to take the two wooden boxes apart and reconstruct them into two tables, a blue plastic tarp served as a “room separator”, chairs were built by local families, two teachers were hired, and the school year began.
Two years later, Katie Kool-Wray & Frank Wray became involved with SAO and started raising funds for an actual school building. Land for the building was purchased in 2013, a well for the community was added to the land in 2014, a bridge to the land was built in 2015 & construction for the main school building began in 2016.
The Cima School of Hope now has 160 students in grades Pre-K through 5th. We have a principal, 8 teachers, 2 cooks & a security guard. A hot nutritious meal is prepared on site and served every day, at a cost of approximately $1 / day / child. For most all of the children, this is the only regular, nutrient-rich meal that they will receive that day…and it is a blessing to the impoverished families in the community.
The present plan calls for the construction of enough classroom space to accommodate close to 180 students through Grade 6 and allow for a shared-space concept that would include regular Adult Education Classes. The foundation of the school is complete, but the capital campaign for the classrooms continues and there is still much to do. If you would like to join in this project, please contact Sonje Ayiti for more information and an update on current progress.
Lycee Francois Cappoix – High School Computer Lab
There are very few high schools in northern Haiti and most children only attend formal school until they complete primary school. The Haiti Government knew that there were many more children living in the northern Haiti since the earthquake of 2010, and they built one of the few new schools in the area in the Limonade area, very close to the new Henri Christophe University. While the building itself is very nice, it is not yet complete, and the operation funds are very small in comparison to the 800 students that the High School serves. They don’t have adequate chairs, so the students either bring their own, or donate them…there is no grass to play on, very few texts books to ever take home to study, and not enough fuel to run the generator to keep the electric lights on or the few computers charged up.
When the former Sonje Ayiti Director of International Development, Dr. Dick Daily, visited the School with SAO CEO/Founder Gabie Vincent, and COO, Steve Mathieu, he went class to class to meet and speak to the students. When he asked the 16 yr. olds what they most wanted, en masse they all said: “A soccer field!!” That would likely be the same reaction expected of most young folks their age…some good soil, and some grass seed and rain, and it could happen…they have the room, though the “field” still looks more like a rubble and rock strewn “waste land”. But it can likely happen. Then he asked the 17 yr. olds what they most wanted, and again, en masse, they all said: “We want to have computers so that we can get on the internet and learn about/participate in the world!” That is not as easily achieved as the soccer field…but they do have a very nice, completely empty Library room…perfect for a computer lab. Bro Dick then spoke to the oldest class, and asked them the same question posed to the younger classes. They responded: “We want to go to college!!” And they said that knowing that there was a beautiful, brand new university facility just down the new highway a few miles away. Those few miles can seem like a long way for students who have never typed on a computer, handled a test tube in a chemistry lab, or used a copy machine.
Sonje Ayiti has a dream to help these Limonade students obtain their own computer lab…and 20+ computers to begin the program. The unfortunate part of the equation is that while the computers themselves are well-built, tower models, with fast enough processing speed and adequate memory and storage capacity to be very useful in a school setting, we do not yet have enough keyboards and monitors to render them useful. Funds to purchase those items, along with some printers, cabling, mice and other peripherals are not yet in hand, nor the additional pledge of an adequate solar-powered electrical system to insure their use, night and day. Sonje Ayiti has trained computer trainers and technicians available to help implement this program but financial and supportive partners are desperately needed to bring this program to full function.
Once the Computer Lab is completed outfitted and powered for fulltime usage, a computer literacy class can also be offered to the adult population through the evening Adult Education model. Many Haitians are hungering for the opportunity to develop and/or enhance their computer skills….skills that are so vital to the economy of our world today.
If you would like to help support Sonje Ayiti’s Computer Lab program to the Lycee Francios Cappoix with either your donations of time, talents, equipment or funding support, please contact us. Your generous gifts can help young Haitians truly help themselves by learning new and useful skills that will prepare them for future employment.
Continuing Education for our Teachers / Administrators
Sonje Ayiti has given high regard to promoting education within the communities of northern Haiti where the organization has been working for the past decade. Many of the teachers in the private and Government-run schools have little more than a high school education themselves and find it difficult to leave their present employment to seek teacher training certification. Also, the number of qualified teacher training institutions is very limited and the cost expensive, and the same is true for school administrators. Sonje Ayiti would like to help provide regular and affordable teacher and school administrator training for the educators in northern Haiti, through a partnership program. One phase of the program would help to fund qualified Haitian teacher/administrator trainers to provide a selected course of study for those interested and qualified educators. A companion part of the program would utilize international partners to visit the region to teach quarterly courses, and offer a different perspective and level of support.
To date, we have provided a scholarship for Herdlyne Plaisimond, one of our original teachers at the Cima School of Hope. In June, she received her early childhood education degree and continues as one of our Pre-K teachers at the CIma school. We also have a partnership with the College of William & Mary, which sends a group of students down to Haiti annually to provide continuing education to our Cima teachers.
If you or your institution would like to help in this program by serving as an advisor, funding partner, and/or educator, please contact Sonje Ayiti for more information.