The picture represents a 16-year effort to bring hope and a brighter future to children of extreme poverty in Hinche, Haiti. From this picture, one would find it hard to believe that the children come from families of 7-10 people residing in 2-room “homes” with earthen floors and without utilities or closed windows. They are or will become the most educated people in their household.
The Center of Hope (Haiti) (“COHH”) was formed in 2004 as a non-profit corporation to raise funds and to develop and operate an orphanage and school in Hinche, Haiti to provide an enhanced western-style education to children of extreme poverty that would not otherwise receive an education or have hope for a brighter future. After many challenges in a country of many challenges, our school opened in 2011. We maintain audited financials and have a Platinum Rating on Guidestar. Our website is www.centerofhope-haiti.org. In 2019, the charity celebrated its 15th year anniversary.
COHH selects 15 children from such extreme poverty for its first grade class each year and each class moves up through the ninth grade before being transferred to high school. The children that arrive in the first grade cannot read or write in any language. The children graduate in the ninth grade able read and write in Kreyol, Spanish, French and English. Today, we have nearly 130 students in grades 1-9. We will graduating our first class of 9th graders this year and one of the best private high schools in the area has agreed to accept them once they pass the high school national exam.
COHH not only provides free education for the children, it also provides uniforms, shoes, school supplies and 2 nutritious meals each day. The school provides an environment of teaching beyond the classroom that includes personal hygiene, trustworthiness and integrity. The parents, guardians and caregivers are invited to participate in the education of the children.
The COHH campus is an oasis for the children and the community. Our buildings (boys/girls’ dormitories, cafeteria/kitchen area, community room, visitor center and some administrative offices have indoor plumbing, including hot water and are maintained on a regular basis.
In 2016, we started a school campus expansion as we had been using the existing orphanage space as classroom space for our children. We have partnered with the Building Goodness Foundation of Charlottesville, VA to construct durable and world class designed structures conducive to learning while at the same time taking advantage of the environment for functionality. The campus, when completed, will be comprised of four buildings surrounding a central “quad” area. We completed the first classroom building for grades 4-6 in 2016 and the 2nd classroom building for grades 7-9 in 2017. We started construction of the third building for grades 1-3 in late 2019; however, completion has been delayed until early 2021 due to the pandemic. We are seeking to raise funds for the fourth building – a science and technology center which will include a science lab space, computer center, teachers’ lounge and some administrative offices.
The above picture is reality for the children. They are learning and developing beyond any expectation they would otherwise have in a very poor country. COHH hopes to continue to help the children have a brighter future.
COHH also benefits the local community as our students 1) share things learned at school such as simple hygiene (washing hands before meals) with family members especially younger siblings 2) are teaching family members to read/write and 3) are helping COHH foster a supportive relationship with community members as evidence by the fact that we have hired and trained around 50 locals for the construction of each classroom building. We also invite family members to plant and harvest the gardens on COHH’s compound and allow them to take home the extra food that is raised.
This youtube video https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fjxdJsj-bMo&feature=youtu.be reflects the viewpoints of two of our long-time COHH students who describe what the school has meant for them as well as the dreams they have. You will also hear from their parents. The video also shows the beautiful classroom buildings we have built as part of our campus expansion.
Every gift, large or small, makes a difference! Thank you for being an ambassador for COHH! We couldn’t do it without you!