Haiti Day 21: A Ride Along with COHP (Children of Haiti Project)
Today I had the privilege of going on a ride along with another new organization in Haiti called the Children of Haiti Project (COHP). You can visit them on the web at www.childrenofhaitiproject.org. They are providing free education to Haitian children, beginning this year with pre-k and kindergarten students. They have rented a location in Delmas 33, an area of Port-Au-Prince to use as their base facility for 2 years. They have recruited approximately 50 four and five year old students from a nearby tent camp to begin the program. The program is intended to grow from year to year, adding a grade level each year. Thus, the culminating school will have 12 grade levels, whereby the 12th graders have been with COHP for all twelve years of their schooling, securing an effective, efficient, and quality education for their students.
I went on the ride along with Jaqueline and Dominique. Dominique works at Union School in Haiti as well, the school that I worked for prior to the earthquake. We made several stops today, including a meeting at their school site (which I toured), a visit to the camp from which they have recruited the students, and a factory that is making the uniforms for the students. It was great to see them in action because it is a preview of what H.E.R.O. is going to have to do eventually. It is good to see that there are many resources available in Haiti that make clothing for children, make desks and chairs for the school, and even organizations that are interested in publishing materials for schools based on individually designed curricula.
For me, partnership and communication are fundamental for Haiti to become a better nation. Even today when we visited the camp that COHP recruited the students from, we found a new organization that had built temporary child friendly spaces, not schools, but areas for children to play games with paid monitors. The students in the COHP program were also signing up for this new organization’s programs as well. The point is that this results in a duplication of services. The more organizations and people are willing to communicate with each other the better off the people of Haiti will be. There will be fewer duplicative resources, which will allow for programs to spread their reach further into the areas of Haiti that still have not received services after the earthquake.
If you choose to continue this dialogue at your workplace or community, the 2 messages I have are these. 1. The government of Haiti must work to provide a free, government funded education, to all children in Haiti. 2. The government and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) in Haiti must partner and communicate effectively in order to reduce duplication of services and maximize the reach of available resources.