Haiti Project

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Eastern Oregon Haiti Project

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Diane coaches a Haitian teacher in her classroom.

Since 2010 the Eastern Oregon Haiti Project (EOHP) has sent a team annually to Haiti to work primarily in the area of education. Initially the team worked in Cap Haitien. A strong partnership with the local Haitian priest, Fr. Noe Bernier, developed. The teams worked with teachers to improve instructional methods in the elementary school, provided books, supplies, and classroom furniture. In August 2013, Fr. Noe moved from Cap Haitien to Hinche in central Haiti, where he is now in charge of several churches and schools. He requested the Eastern Oregon Haiti Project continue to work with him in the new location.

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Bookshelf constructed by EOHP in a Haitian classroom.

There are many challenges in Haitian schools. First, there are no books in classrooms. Books are not used for instruction in reading and writing. If a school has a library, it is generally stocked with discarded books in French and English and not with attractive books for children. A second problem is out-dated instructional methods. Teachers use call-response techniques that require simple rote memorization of facts or information. This methodology requires no application of knowledge or thinking; it was sufficient in the early 20th century but is totally inadequate for today’s world and global economy. The third problem is related to the second–expectations. Most schools strive to increase enrollment, to serve as many children as possible. But that goal does not include the expectation that children will succeed and learn. Three-fourths of children beginning kindergarten drop out of school before 6th grade, and most of those before the 3rd grade! We believe this is related to poor instructional methods that don’t support children’s learning. Children who have difficulties are expected to figure the learning out on their own, and if they can’t, they leave school. Teachers and administrators regard this as normal attrition.

Haiti will never be able to take charge of its endemic problems and stop relying on outside resources until its citizens are better educated. Education is the key to lifting this “fourth world” country out of poverty.

Project objectives:

1. Provide professional development for elementary teachers to improve instructional methods and help them teach more effectively. There will be a focus on reading methods (specifically using books in reading instruction and small group teaching) and math problem solving activities.

2. Provide leveled books for small group reading instruction and quality children’s literature to stock a small library.

3. Provide furniture and equipment to enhance instruction such as small group tables and white boards. Provide basic school supplies such as pencils, erasers, chalk, and crayons.

The EOHP team assembles new furniture for a Haitian school.

The EOHP construction team assembles new furniture for a Haitian school.

In 2015 the EOHP team worked with teachers at St. Andre’s Episcopal School. The team delivered school supplies, leveled books in French, Big Books in Creole, and trade books in Creole. They also built four kidney shaped tables for small group instruction and two bookcases. The teaching team provided a professional development workshop and did side-by-side coaching to help teachers learn to use books in their classroom and instruction. This work needs to continue. In addition there are 10 schools in outlying villages with schools, some of the schools very primitive with few resources. The director of the rural schools, Jean-Baptiste Herodian, asked the EOHP to work with teachers from the village schools in 2016, so that will be the primary focus of the next trip.

Diane Walworth is the Project Coordinator and is responsible for the education team. John Adams is the construction team leader.

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School supplies are greatly needed and can be donated to EOHP at any time. There is a collection box in the nartex designated for Haiti school supplies.

Specific items needed:

  • White chalk
  • Dry erase markers
  • Erasers—both pencil erasers and chalk board erasers
  • Pens
  • 24 count crayons
  • Pencil sharpeners
  • Protractors
  • Math compasses
  • Please no paper or notebooks.

This is an easy way for everyone to participate in and contribute to St. Paul’s Eastern Oregon Haiti Project.