Robinson students, faculty and staff members visit Haiti for the second year in a row!
For the past three years, the Robinson community has been cultivating a special relationship with College Espoir Chretien, a school in Ouanaminthe, Haiti founded by Alliance Chretienne et Missionaire with more than 1,000 students from Pre-K to senior year. The school even offers an evening program to the adult community. Faith in the power of education and its potential to empower new generations to change the future of their families and country is the motivating force behind this inspiring project.
The friendship between Robinson and College Espoir Chretien has blossomed into an enriching experience for both institutions and its communities. A new culture of philanthropy is emerging at Robinson that extends beyond traditional charity to create self-defined, sustainable projects with long-term impact. Our students are defining new methods of community service by building meaningful relationships and developing project-based action with real results.
All images © 2016 Anya Belaval
Education is a basic human right and the foundation of self-sufficiency. After Elba Rodríguez (Spiritual Life teacher) introduced the College Espoir Chretien project to Robinson students, they began looking for ways to improve access to this fundamental right for their fellow students in Haiti.
Robinson students, faculty and staff members began this relationship by donating much-needed clothing and school supplies. But it quickly became clear that donations were not enough. According to the IB Middle Years Program: “Service is action.” That is exactly what Robinson School did, we took action. With encouragement from their sponsors, Robinson clubs began fundraising and sponsoring scholarships (tuition is $200 a year) for talented students who would otherwise be unable to receive an education.
Mrs. Rodríguez first came in contact with the Ouanaminthe community through Pastor Fils Aimé Idenair (also known as Pastor Eddie), founder of the church Alliance Chretienne et Missionaire, the school College Espoir Chretien and the medical clinic Clinique Alliance Chretienne D’Haïti, which opened this past year. In the summer of 2015, Robinson students and members of our administration had the opportunity to visit Ouanaminthe, engage with the community, and participate in a powerful cultural exchange. Once they returned and shared their story, Robinson was inspired to become even more involved!
This first visit to Ouanaminthe allowed our students to observe their efforts in action. They analyzed what worked, identified failures and developed possible solutions based on their experience. With input from College Espoir Chretien staff, our team began developing a sustainable administrative plan for the school and its most urgent needs.
As the project continued, Robinson students demonstrated their personal and collective commitment to service. Last year, members of the Girl Up Club, a UN initiative in which girls “empower each other and transform the world,” donated two full scholarships to the school. (For more information, click: https://girlup.org/about/) Soon, they were joined by parents and faculty members, who also donated full scholarships. By June 2015, Mrs. Rodríguez reported that she had received a total of 97 scholarships from members of her church and the Robinson School community.
This year, a new group of Robinson students and staff members traveled to Haiti from June 7-10 to continue this work. The Interact Club, the Social Studies Club and the Boys for Girl Up Club (a special Robinson branch of the Girl Up Club made up exclusively of boys) joined this year’s fundraising efforts. The Interact Club raised almost $500 for a laptop they donated to the “College Espoir Chretien” administration to make keeping accurate records easier. The Social Studies Club donated books and $100 for school supplies. Last, but not least, the Boys for Girl Up Club donated three full scholarships and $200 to Pastor Eddie’s family. We are proud of our students’ efforts, their perseverance and, especially, the results!
To strengthen our relationship with the Ouanaminthe community, our team has broadened its efforts. We will be including the “Clinique Alliance Chretienne D’Haïti” which provides basic medical services to the community for common conditions, such as infections, hernias and the removal of benign tumors that can lead to serious complications left untreated. The clinic is doing amazing work with what little resources they have. However, the resources and materials for creating a sterile environment desperately need improvement and support.
Our student delegation—Ariadna Gómez (Class of 2017), Giuliana Sanguineti and Giulianna Thurman (both Class of 2022)—worked photographing scholarship recipients, collecting their information and documenting their progress to measure the success of Robinson’s efforts. At the clinic, our Development team (Rebecca Sumner and Anya Belaval) observed and documented a potential health risk with a simple solution—the lack of a sterile environment. After discussing the situation with the clinic staff, we donated a one-month supply of bleach to improve short-term conditions. Stay tuned! You will definitely be hearing more about our bleach campaign and other public health initiatives soon!
We are looking forward to future projects and collaboration with our friends in Haiti. Together, we will continue developing world-class schools in the Caribbean! A big thank-you to Pastor Eddie and the Ouanaminthe community for receiving us and sharing their experience with the Robinson family! We look forward to future visits!
If you want to learn more about this ongoing project or wish to join our efforts, please contact Elba Rodríguez, Anya Belaval, Communications Director or Rebecca Sumner, Development Director.
Robinson’s New Culture of Philanthropy: The most effective philanthropy comes from listening, first-hand experience and real-life relationships. According to IB principles, effective community service is structured by creativity, action and service. This ambitious project benefits students from both communities by implementing those principles and encouraging alliances based on creative problem-solving and collaboration to execute carefully planned projects.
Beyond the Classroom: This type of educational experience goes far beyond the classroom and the individual student. It has the potential to change the world by offering new perspectives from students (our future leaders) about complex global issues. Projects like this one challenge our students to extend their intellectual and emotional capacities by applying them to difficult situations. Most importantly, it redefines philanthropy by engaging all the communities involved to listen and learn from each other. We can definitely confirm that we have learned as much (if not more) from our friends in Haiti as they might have learned from us! Together, we will guarantee the sustainability of this inspiring project.