Some Updates from HS

We’ve got our facebook page going.  Our Twitter is up and running.  This site, thanks to the help of some incredible volunteers, is up and running.  As you can tell if you’re reading this, we’ve switched our blog site so it’s all incorporated into our website.  I hope you’ve joined our forces on each of these social fronts!

Our articles of incorporation have been sent in, and we’re hoping the legalities can be taken care of sooner rather than later, although backlogs with the State of California are something that’s beyond our control.  Why California?  It’s not one of the tax friendliest states, but it’s the one where I (Alex) am located, which makes filing articles, bylaws, and everything else a little easier.  Plus, all our board members are located throughout the country…so I had to pick just one state 🙂  Speaking of our directors,  we’re hoping to add a few more members to our board, so stay tuned for future updates!

The Rotary Club in Leogane has agreed to work with us in making things happen on the ground.  They will interview our students and disburse money directly to the schools.  We are excited about this partnership and hope it will be long term and beneficial not only for us and the Rotary Club in Leogane, but most importantly, the students who will benefit from your donations.

We have applications from five deserving and incredible students, and we’re hoping we can fund the rest of their academic school year.  The funds we have so far allow us to cover approximately 75% of tuition and registration.  So we’re 25% short of providing fulls scholarships to our five students, and we also need to start securing donations for next year’s scholarships.  Remember: $25 a month puts a student in school for a whole year.  Think about the opportunities you are giving these students, and the doors you’re allowing them to open.  Please help spread the word, ask your friends and family to help you sponsor a student.

We’re hoping in the next month or so to have a “fundraising packet” available on our website, which you can refer to for ideas on how to raise money for our students.  I hope that once it’s up and running, you’ll take a look and find a way that you feel comfortable taking charge of.

As always, please feel free to contact us at haitischolarships@gmail.com if you have any questions or comments.

Thanks for being a part of Haiti Scholarships!

-Alex

Education: a rare opportunity for children in Haiti

Remember way back to when you were a child in school, and you would do anything to have the day off? Watching television and playing games sounded like more fun than sitting in classes all day. Finally, after a long debacle, it was decided that since you didn’t have a fever, you had to go to school (not everyone was as smart as Elliot on E.T.). Defeated, you gave in, had some breakfast, and rode the bus to school.
For families in the United States, getting children to school every morning is a common scenario. Going to school every day for nine months out of the year, for 13 years, sounds like a drag, but it’s also something that shouldn’t be taken for granted. The opportunity to go to school is such a given in communities in the United States that many don’t realize education is not as easily accessible throughout the world.
After the January 2010 earthquake, the already impoverished nation suffered more devastation. Buildings and homes came down, and over a year later, the government is still unable to begin any earnest reconstruction. Most Haitians believe that receiving an education is the only escape from the cycle of poverty that entraps the majority of the population. After the earthquake, the central government became powerless, and rescuing the injured and providing medical assistance became the main prerogative.
Even before the earthquake, education was not a priority. A huge challenge to the education sector lies in the fact that education is mostly privatized. In a 2002-03 census performed by the World Bank, it was discovered that only 8% of schools are public, and the other 92%, are private and require tuition. Because of poverty, most families can’t afford to attend these private schools.
The government doesn’t provide much financial support for the 8% of public schools: schools use outdated materials and can’t afford to hire enough teachers, or provide teachers with necessary training. In addition, inequality of the limited education funds exists. Rural Haiti is composed of 70% of the country’s population, yet only receives 20% of the funds. Other factors besides financial hardships prevent children from attending school. There is a high dropout rate, not because of a disinterest in becoming educated, but because of the circumstances faced by families. Sometimes siblings have to alternate going to school, which usually results in the children having to repeat a grade. This creates more problems because even more tuition, textbooks, and uniforms need to be paid for. Not to mention the need for children to work in order to contribute to the household income.
Language barriers are another factor that contributes to the crises in access to education. In Haiti, the main language is Creole, and only advantaged citizens speak French. Most schools teach their classes in French, meaning that students are unable to learn unless they are privileged enough to speak French in the first place. For those few students that do attend school, they don’t experience the high-quality education that students in other countries experience. Poorly built infrastructure contributes to problems for teachers and students. There is also a huge shortage of books, desks, chairs, and other teaching materials. In addition, only 60% of Haitian teachers are qualified and trained to teach. Already considered issues before the earthquake, these issues were further exacerbated by the disaster.
The Haitian Ministry of National Education and Professional Training (MENFP) is the governing body that is supposed to regulate education in the country. However, the MENFP doesn’t fulfill its mandate to provide education to citizens and play a regulatory role; the body is unable to assess, oversee, and address the current state of education.
According to the CIA World Fact Book, 52.9% of the population, aged 15 and up, are literate. This is a dramatic statistic for citizens of a nation whose only route out of poverty is through education. In the U.S., where the literacy rate is 99%, not being able to read is almost unheard of. Unfortunately, in Haiti, the low literacy rate is a sad truth.
Whereas going to school may seem like an obligation to students in the U.S., it is a rare and cherished opportunity for children in Haiti. Education reform remains on the backburner. Although there are many pressing and competing needs in Haiti, education must become a priority if long term and lasting improvements are to be made.

Hello world!

Welcome to the Haiti Scholarship Blog!

A few months ago, maybe around October, Jim posted a status on his Facebook page, and we’ve been dreaming and scheming ever since. Jim’s idea: raise money to grant scholarships to students in Haiti so they can afford to attend school.

In Haiti, private schools account for 92% of primary schools. This means that in order for students to attend the majority of schools available, parents and students must be able to afford tuition, books, and uniforms. Because of this, only 65% of school aged children are actually enrolled, and those enrollment numbers drop to less than 20% at the secondary level.

Haiti Scholarships was created to address the financial hardships that keep many students away from obtaining an education, an education that can open doors and lead to a better future for them and their families.

So what have we been up to since October? Well, we got a board of directors together that is willing to go through the ups and downs of starting an organization. We started to develop a website–it still has some work to make it more user friendly, but it’s slowly coming together. We’ve been working on getting our incorporation and tax exemption paperwork together and filed, so all donations are tax deductible. We’ve been working on our scholarship application, and establishing all the procedures needed to ensure donations are processed and delivered directly to schools.

Most recently we hired a media intern, Lindsey, who will be taking charge of our social media. We’re also working on developing a logo that represents who we are and what we want to achieve.

I hope you will be a part of Haiti Scholarships. Check out our websiteLike our Facebook page. Join our Twitter. So many options to stay in touch and learn how to be involved!

Thank you,

-Alex