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FAMILLE en Haiti

FAMILY's Response to the Earthquake Disaster

Our long term mission is to create the FAMILY Tuskegee Institute in the Verrettes section of the Artibonite Valley, to serve as the centering point for sustainable community development in Haiti. The earthquake and the massive internal migration of people returning home to the countryside that is underway has added great urgency to our mission because the FAMILY Tuskegee model can readily serve as the replicable model for Haiti's future decentralized development.

Prior to the earthquake, we planned to work on three initiatives in 2010: build more schools; scale up our Teacher Training Academy; and expand our youth peer mentoring program. We will continue with these initiatives, but we are in the process of greatly enlarging the scope of our plans in order to meet the evolving needs of the people of the region in this turbulent time.

We are rapidly scaling up our efforts in the following key areas:

Emergency Relief. As families have returned from the city, we are working with our partners to develop programs to integrate them into rural life.  With most of the major schools in Port-au-Prince destroyed and the government severely crippled, we will be working with our partners to provide temporary shelter, integrate the children in local schools and help to provide food as necessary.

  • Information system development. We see clearly that one of FAMILY's early priorities will be to help to establish an information system. Out of the chaos, it will be important to contribute to a sense of order. An adequate information and communication system will be essential.

  • Income Creation. The earthquake not only decimated many parts of Port-au-Prince and bordering regions, but it also ravaged large sections of Haiti's work force. The surviving families have returned home empty-handed. To help rebuild shattered lives we will join with our partners to help create sustainable, long-term solutions to their economic tribulations.

  • Micro-Finance.  We believe the opportunity exists to unearth the entrepreneur that lies within all Haitians who wish to feed themselves and their families and improve their way of life. We will join with our partners to support micro credit initiatives that will play an important role in giving thousands of rural Haitians the chance to develop sustainable local economies and improve their lives.

Education. As a result of our extensive survey of schools and teachers in the spring of 2009, we identified multiple areas within Verrettes-- especially in the mountainous regions on the outskirts of the province-- where kids simply couldn't get to school. Our school-building plan will improve capacity and create local jobs.

  • Scaling up of our Teacher Training Academy. Our seminar series was a stunning success this year, and provided professional development to hundreds of local preschool and elementary teachers and principals. With support from the Ministry of Education and DePaul University School of Education, we will promote a culture of quality teaching through a two-year, part time, certificate-granting program. This program will provide needed support to an already crumbling educational system. This was the first step in the creation of the FAMILY Tuskegee Institute of Haiti – our long-term goal. (click here for more)

  • Integration of displaced students into the classroom. Our program will provide tuition, supplies and uniforms for refugee children as well as those affected by the tragedy due to loss of jobs in Port-au-Prince. It is hoped that some students who were in upper classes of schools in Port au Prince will be able to enter a program in which they will serve as interns or teachers in schools that are being built. Ironically, this will enhance the quality of education and increase the number of teachers, as the qualifications of many of these students are much higher than the qualifications of many of the current teachers serving in the commune. They will receive a stipend for their services; this will enable them to pay for their continuing education in future years. Many of them will not have to return to Port Au Prince to complete their education; they will complete it in the FAMILY Tuskegee Institute in Verrettes.

  • Life Skills Development. Recent developments reinforce the need to invest in local capacity building and economic development through education.  The FAMILY Tuskegee Institute of Haiti is focused on providing a model of capacity building through education.  FAMILY will use a pragmatic approach which focuses the education of students and communities toward vocational skills that will lead to economic development.  The FAMILY Tuskegee Institute’s initial phase will be more of a community college and vocational tech institute that links students to community need areas.  Students will not only learn skills through class room instruction, but will be required to go into their communities to implement new techniques and ideas for capacity building

Construction. Haiti will experience a boom in construction in the next decade and there is a shortage of skilled workers.  Vocational Programs in Construction project management, contractors, electricity, plumbing and iron work are of utmost necessity and will be integrated in to the curriculum of the FAMILY Tuskegee Institute.

Agricultural development. Farming is the backbone of the Haitian economy, and the Artibonite Valley is the bread basket of Haiti. But in recent years, its production has decreased. It will be vital for the food production in this region to be increased in 2010. Our partner, Tuskegee University, will work closely with government agencies and FAMILY's other partners to support the efforts of local farmers to implement and disseminate best-practices in agriculture. Haiti will need programs for agricultural technicians as well as programs to deliver basic techniques to local farmers.

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FAMILY Tuskegee Institute. These are some of the first steps in the creation of the FAMILY Tuskegee Institute. Its development will be shaped as its leaders respond with our partners to the massive needs for sustainable development in the Artibonite Valley and throughout Haiti in the years ahead. Meeting these needs will require the training of engineers and other specialists who will help to create the infrastructure that will help to transform Haiti. 

We strive for local capacity building. Our work in Verrettes is done through partners on the ground-- by Haitians, for Haitians. And we will work closely with relevant government ministries to ensure sustainability and replicability of our efforts.
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