On our last post, we recounted our team’s trip to Haiti and the challenges faced by the communities our projects are located in. Poor infrastructure, state negligence and limited access to education are among the main problems the communities face. Fueled by this adversity, Westbow Gives Back, in partnership with Hungry for Life, visited the ongoing projects in the commune of Pignon.
Our team’s first stop was at UCI, an educational facility that accommodates 1600 students from Kindergarten to Grade 12, and 1200 University students, many of whom are sponsored. Although UCI’s focus is education, they also run 9 nutrition centres, a health clinic, an agricultural school, and an elementary teacher certification program. UCI’s efforts do not go unnoticed. A bright, shining light in the center of a very dark place, UCI’s holistic and integral approach is central to the children and young adults who are part of these efforts, and whose lives are changed by access to education and healthcare.
Westbow Gives Back has also played a silent, yet important role to propel UCI’s efforts. From purchasing the land where the education facilities are located, to financing the building of residential units for teachers, the medical clinic and the drilling of a communal well, Westbow has been a key catalyst for UCI’s radiance within the community. Soon, we are hoping to acquire more land for UCI’s Agricultural Department, which teaches students how to grow their own produce. We also aim to continue with the construction of 37 homes, designed to help students and professors live while they study or work.
Our team of volunteers also visited the Haiti Free School, located in Mirebelais. Although this project is not as large as UCI, its importance and significance can be felt throughout the community. The Free School’s mission is to remove any barriers, economic, political or social, that prevent children from entering the education system. The Free School also understands the crucial relationship between education, nutrition and breaking the cycle of poverty. For this reason, students at the Free School receive a free daily meal. Westbow Gives Back has proudly partnered with the Free School and supports the project by financially supporting many of its programs. Most notably, the top 2 students of each year’s graduating class are sponsored by Westbow to continue their education by attending University. These students typically have a great track record of excellent grades but would not be able to afford to attend University otherwise. Westbow also assisted with the purchase of the land where the school is located, along with the construction of the facilities. Although we feel extremely elated to partake in this great project, we believe our job is not yet done. Our immediate goal is to complete the school construction, adding the finishing details such as walls and flooring. We are also planning on building a fully equipped and ready-to-use computer lab.
There is no doubt that poverty has a life lasting effect on individual lives, as well as on the social structure of communities. Westbow Gives Back firmly believes that education is a key element to break the cycle of poverty, to improve the lives of individuals affected by poverty and to renew the social relationships that build and constitute each community.