24 teachers, 150 kids, 8 volunteers, 5 interpreters, 98 degrees… Creativity was made for weeks like this!
In July, a team of eight volunteers with the American Friendship Foundation traveled down to Haiti to work with teachers on strategies to integrate creativity into the classroom. The team included Jeff Clark, Terry Clark, McKenzie Clark, Erica Stanislawski, Kenny Askew, Julia Smith, Rose Neese, and Kris Neese.
The program started with a two-day workshop for Haitian teachers. Twenty one teachers from J Nissi School and Institution Mixte Frère Silar, along with three future teachers from the HELP organization in Port-au-Prince, shared ideas around critical thinking, brainstorming, creativity, and the arts.
In Haiti, as in many other nations, the educational system is focused on rote memorization. When teachers can help their students to solve problems in creative ways and to think outside the box, they are planting seeds that will help this next generation of leaders to tackle larger issues like the environment, politics, and social justice.
Teachers are the conduit to get students thinking in new ways.
At the center of the training were a series of creative challenges hosted on www.kreyatif.org that provided the 24 teachers with a practical set of exercises (in Haitian Creole) to leverage in their classrooms.
Teachers were treated to an award ceremony at the end of the event where they received a certificate of completion for completing the training.
Following our professional development workshop, it was time to bring in 150 kids for a two-day “Creative Camp” and let our Haitian teachers test out their new skills!
Creative Camp was fun summer opportunity for the kids living onsite at the Ororaedh Orphanage alongside students who attend J Nissi School in the extremely impoverished Cité Soleil area.
It was amazing to watch how quickly the entire group adapted to the concepts around critical thinking. The teachers taught with authority and confidence, and you could see the students’ minds firing up and having fun.
The approach on this Creative Camp was that our team of AFF volunteers took a backseat during the event. Haitian teachers were the star of the show!
The week was amazing, but there is still work to be done. The team that organized the teacher workshop and Creative Camp is looking for ways to build a consistent delivery mechanism around these ideas.
It is a simple and obvious philosophy… Haitians are going to find the answers to Haiti’s issues. Investing in teachers and students, specifically in their ability to tackle tough problems and work as a team, is a great partnership opportunity for us.
Thank you to all of the people who provided encouragement and financial sponsorship for this project!
For those of you who have joined us on a trip to Haiti, you know that it can be quite difficult to explain what life is like on this distant Caribbean Island. Sharing your passion for partnering with Haitians on projects to better their community can be quite difficult!
This fourth of July weekend, volunteers from the American Friendship Foundation are testing out a new concept on Lopez Island to raise awareness and funds for the Nissi School in Haiti.
Not on Lopez Island? You can still support the school by clicking here.
Beer and Wine Garden
The concept being tested is a beer and wine garden on Lopez Island. AFF volunteers Jeff Clark, Terry Clark, and Hubermann Alcean are spending the weekend hosting a community event where visitors to the island can purchase beer, wine, brats, and snacks. All proceeds from the event will go towards a school in Haiti that was founded by the Clarks in 2011.
All sorts of visitors have been stopping by to enjoy a refreshing beverage and learn more about the school in Haiti.
In this picture you can see AFF all-star Hubermann Alcean and his daughter talking to guests about life in Haiti. Hubermann met Jeff Clark in 2010 while providing medical relief for the earthquake in Haiti. Since then he has helped to lead several of the service trips to Haiti. Hubermann now lives in Bothell and works at Evergreen Hospital.
The Nissi School in Cité Soleil opened in October 2011 providing education and hope for the children and families in the area. Cité Soleil is described as one of the poorest communities in the Western Hemisphere, so education is desperately needed to provide the kids with a good bearing in life.
The school is fully funded by donations from the American Friendship Foundation. The financial support provided through donations to AFF helps pay teachers, provide new uniforms each year, purchase books, supplies, and funds a school lunch program. Donations to the project are definitely needed, your generous support is appreciated.
In this 2-minute video, we introduce you to Jean Philippe Sauveur, the director of the J Nissi School in Haiti. Watch this video to hear how the school is doing, some of the challenges of growing up in Cité Soleil, and Jean Philippe’s hope for his students. (Recorded October 27, 2016)
We are proud to be partnering with Jean Philippe as he makes the decisions impacting the seventy kids under his care at the J Nissi School. The school was a dream of Jean Philippe’s late step-brother Windy and has developed into a beacon of hope in the community over the past six years.
Movable walls within the church where they currently host three of the classes to foster fewer distractions.
More benches to accommodate the growing number of students.
Enough textbooks for every student so they can get their homework done.
Storage space for the teachers to store their books and other teaching resources.
More notebooks for the kids.
More chalkboards for the teachers.
As we raise money to support the school, we first cover the monthly operating expenses and then give Jean Philippe the authority to make decisions on which projects to prioritize and how to get them accomplished. This is a project run by Haitians, we are simply here to provide support as they work towards solutions for their country.
We had the chance to film this interview while sitting down with Jean Philippe Sauveur on October 27, 2016. While we had to cut this video down to suit our fellow short-attention-span Americans, you are welcome to watch the entire 35 minute video and read the full transcript of this interview.
This post contains the full 35-minute video along with the translation that you can hear Hubermann Alcean providing during this interview with some adjustments made to get it in a more readable format.
I am Jean Phillipe Suavier and I am a teacher. I grew up in Cite Soleil and have lived in Cite Soleil for about 35 years. I’ve seen the best parts of Cite Soleil but also the worst parts, as well.
And thank God, that after 2010 when Haiti had the big earthquake, our school in Cite Soleil was born when some disaster relief volunteers from our community met Jeff Clark and Hubermann Alcean.
When we started, a lot of people didn’t think that the school could become what it is right now.
I can tell you that we have about 70 kids in the J Nissi School. We started with a first grade class and now go all the way through sixth grade.
We have about 16 members of our staff. Our teachers are:
Mrs. Azzis who teaches first grade.
We have Mr. Devenson who teaches second grade.
We have Frere William who teaches third grade.
We have Mr. Dominique who teaches fourth grade.
We have Professor Jodea who teaches fifth grade.
We have Mr. Matthaus who teaches sixth grade.
We have 1 secretary, 1 disciplinary specialist, 1 assistant director, two cooks, and one housekeeper.
That is the staff we have at J Nissi School right now.
We teach first through sixth grade in the school. As director, my job is to watch over all of the students and teachers for these classes. It is also my obligation to teach the bible to the kids and also teach them about how to act civil and social in life.
Each teacher works from 7am to 1pm during the day.
When people in Haiti hear that a person is from Cite Soleil, they assume that the person usually won’t grow into a person who is social, is knowledgeable, or will have a good future, because it is a dangerous area. But these kids at J Nissi School are seen differently. The fact that they’ve had the opportunity to receive an education means that they behave differently, they talk differently, and they speak differently. Thanks to their education, these kids will not be judged in the same way as others in the community and might have a better future.
Cite Soleil is in desperate need of more schools. From my perspective, there should be at least ten schools in the area so that anybody can have access to good education.
I want to take a moment to say thank you to Mr. Jeff Clark and his wife Terry. And also to Jackson who is a part of the AFF team, to Hubermann, and to Rodney Leveille who used to be a part of the team, for helping the kids in Cite Soleil. And also, thank you to you all the brothers and sisters who are willing to come down to Haiti, volunteer to work beside us, and have the chance to see first hand the progress that we are making in Cite Soleil.
As the director, I can tell you that there are many challenges when it comes to managing a school in Cite Soleil. One of the biggest challenges is that when there are shootings or bad things happening in the city, and the kids are not feeling safe, I have to find a way for them to keep coming to school. Right now, things in Cite Soleil are calmer and I have been praying that they will stay peaceful so the kids can come to school and continue their work. No matter what, it is always a challenge.
Awhile back, anyone who heard of Cite Soleil had no doubt that it is a dangerous place and that it has some bad people. As of right now there are some real improvements in terms of how people live and how they treat one another. I am hopeful that things will keep going that way so that we can project a better image of Cite Soleil along with the importance of a good education.
For example, let’s say that one of our teachers is ready to come to work but there is some trouble going on in Cite Soleil, sometimes they just have to say “let’s do this”, and come in to the school. This takes a lot of courage.
After six and half years, I know that there are good things happening in the school and community but I also know there are still going to be some challenges. Sometimes we’ll have teachers that leave and it takes me time to get a new teacher up to speed. It is just part of the work that we need to do to keep pressing on.
Some of the challenges that our kids face in school is that some of our teachers don’t have enough resources in their classrooms. If kids don’t have notebooks and the books for their lessons, it is a challenge for them to get their homework done.
Some other challenges are that we don’t have a lot of chalkboards and that there are not enough benches for all of the kids to sit down. We also need storage space for the teachers to store their books and other resources. The challenges are enormous in terms of what we do in our work.
Tomorrow, the AFF team will be meeting with the kids in the church where we have a few of our classes. There are already a few classes that meet in that room, and as the school expands we’ll need to fit more people in that space. It would be awesome to have a separate room for each class. It is a big challenge for me this year.
Imagine having three classes in one room and there isn’t any kind of divider in the room. It is easy for the kids to get distracted when one group talks louder than another group or is being noisy. When the kids can’t concentrate it is a challenge for them to learn.
Despite all of these challenges, I am always hopeful that things will continue to change “little by little” as Jeff Clark says. We will keep moving forward one step at a time to get where we’re going.
As I was mentioning to you earlier, as a person that has been there and knows what is going on, and Kris, maybe this is the first time you visited Cite Soleil, we are often protected. Sometimes when shootings happen in Cite Soleil you have all of the kids in one place and they are actually being targeted somewhat by the shooting. we would have lost a lot of lives. We are still moving forward and doing good. What a huge blessing.
As the director of J Nissi School, it is my passion, it is my goal, and it is my dream, that fifty years from now this school might be the greatest in Cite Soleil and that it can bring a lot of change and new resources to the community.
Most of our teachers are either from Cite Soleil or live in Cite Soleil, but some of the teachers come from different areas. The fact that they are actually willing to come in and teach the kids shows how passionate they are about what they do and shows you where their heart is.
If there were more help and we could have more classes we would certainly do it.
That’s a beautiful question. I have a lot of ideas. And I understand that all of those ideas can’t be realized in one day.
For example, you can look at the students who started in the lowest grade level six years ago and see how far they have come today.
If you were to look back at pictures of these kids when we started six years ago you can see that they look different now. In school they have learned good behavior and how to dress themselves. This personal pride makes a huge difference.
There are several ways that people can help support what we do in Cite Soleil. First of all, keep doing what you’re doing to help us out with food. It’s important that the kids get a hot meal every day to keep them motivated. And also there is a whole other thing that he said that we will talk about when we meet tomorrow.
It’s also important for the kids to learn about computers. A few years ago, I wasn’t able to do anything with computer and had to ask everyone for help to do anything. But now I’ve learned a little bit and can do some work.
I can coach people a bit but it’s a fast moving world and technology is getting bigger and bigger. In the future, it would be awesome to have some sort of program for the kids so they can work with computers, some basic Microsoft, and how to type.
One of my biggest goals is to introduce kids to the church and for them to learn the gospel. If I hadn’t had the opportunity to get to know God, I don’t know where I would be today. I could be anything other than what I am right now. But now it is my responsibility and my mission to share the bible with the students at the school.
My mission is not only to go to church, but it is also to make sure we teach our students about the bible and you can see the difference that it has made today. You can see the kids react to it. They learn to be humble and to know the difference between what is right and what is wrong, and that is a very good thing.
One big component that we might need to add to J Nissi School is some training for the kids to learn how to create things. During the Summer, we had some volunteers come and do art projects with the students and it was a very good thing. We would love to see more people come to teach them to create things.
I would also like to have a trade school for them someday to learn skills like sewing that will help them in the future.
And thank you to Mr. Jeff Clark and Madame Terry. And Mr. Kris that I just met for the first time. And Mr. Tom who is with us today. And Mr. Hubermann. You leave your family and work behind to come down here to CITE SOLEIL. As Jeff says we want small steps to keep pushing forward with the school.
This is one of the things that keeps me healthy. I have met with many different people who have traveled to Haiti with Jeff Clark. And I usually talk to them like I am talking to you now. The message that we will continue to send out is that people should just come down and visit the school because it is the best way to see what we are doing and to be a part of the story.
When you come down and work for the kids in Cite Soleil it is a considered a blessing. We know that more and more people are starting to realize that we need help in Cite Soleil. These people need help. We need big changes down here. Come down and help us.
When you come down to help and do the work with the kids you can see their world. You can see their personalities. You can love them. You can be conscious that they are human like anyone else.
One day these kids might have an opportunity to be somebody like myself, Hubermann, Jeff, or Kris. They can be a new person. Someone who wants knowledge is able to do some good.
Thank you for your help now and in the future.
In general, I want to thank not just those who come to help our kids in Cite Soleil, but who help the kids anywhere in Haiti. Especially in the south where they were just hit by a huge hurricane. Or in the hospitals where kids are sick.
But I want to make sure that you know that we are grateful. Our kids and the kids with Pastor Silar, and kids all around the world, need help from people like you who are willing to learn about us, listen, and open your heart for something good.
Whatever God has told you to do, He has a reason for it. There is a blessing with that. Wherever God sends you, just go. It is very important to be faithful and follow your heart. Thank you.
The week has been flying by for our AFF team in Haiti this week. Today, we had the opportunity to put on a vision clinic at the J Nissi School in Cité Soleil for all the parents of our students.
Our focus was on handing out glasses for “up close” activities like reading and sewing. A few minutes were spent with each parent to assess their vision and to determine what (if any) prescription of readers they needed. It’s a wonderful chance to simply say bonjour, connect with the parents, and provide them with something that can make life just a little bit easier.
Cité Soleil is an area outside of Port-au-Prince that is known for both extreme poverty and for being a well-spring of incredible people who are determined to make Haiti a better place. A man named Windy Sauveur is the one who got this whole project with the school started. You’ll also meet people like Pierre Duckens, who joined our group today, and is working to train up EMTs in Cité Soleil and build the emergency response system for Haiti. People like these are all the reminder we need on why providing kids with an education is such a vital mission in areas like this.
The glasses that we used were provided by the Lions Club Eyeglass Recycling program out of Lacey, WA. The Lions Club collects the glasses, repairs them, cleans them, and puts them in bags that are easy to identify when working with the patients. We are very grateful to them for offering this service.
“People often ask, why go to Haiti? What can change? I ask you to look into the eyes of anyone of these children from Cite Soleil and ask them. Has school changed you? Has having food daily at school changed you? Does hope for tomorrow change you?
We will meet the new class of this year in a week! Those eyes are why this school enters its 6th year and we keep going to Haiti.”
– Jeff Clark
A team from AFF has been assembled for a “back to school” visit to Haiti in late October. During the trip, we’ll visit the three main American Friendship Foundation projects in Haiti, assess the impact of Hurricane Matthew at each site, make some visits to our other local partners. Our three core projects in Haiti are:
J Nissi School
Canaan Medical Clinic
Many of you who read this blog post have visited these sites with a past team. We are looking forward to capturing photos, video, and interviews with our Haitian project directors and sharing them with you upon our return so you always remember that connection you created. You are a part of the story!
As always, donations are appreciated to support these projects and 100% of your gift goes directly towards supporting these worthwhile projects.
Below you can read a more detailed overview on the project sites we’ll visit.
J Nissi School
Started in 2011, the J Nissi School serves kids in Cite Soleil, which is one of the poorest and most dangerous areas of the Western Hemisphere. Over the past five years, we have partnered with our school administrator Jean Philippe to build a a safe place within the community for our students where they get a good meal every day and the education required to break the chain of poverty.
During our October visit, the team is going to distribute brand new school uniforms, backpacks, and school supplies direct to our students. For those of you who have visited the school, you know what a fun day this is for the kids!
We are also hoping to have a meeting with the parents of the students, to take the teachers out to dinner, and to take the kids for an offsite field trip.
Canaan Medical Clinic
We are also very excited to have the opportunity to spend some time with Dr. Edouard Bordes on this upcoming trip. Dr. Bordes runs the clinic in Canaan, which is a city that sprung up as a refuge for victims of the 2010 earthquake. His clinic serves a community of 200,000 Haitians and is an essential service in this remote area outside of Port-au-Prince.
While visiting, we’ll have the opportunity to see the operating room that is under construction at the clinic. This new OR is intended to serve as a birthing center for the women in Canaan. Dr. Bordes pours his heart into his work and we look forward to discussing his future plans for the clinic and how we can support his efforts.