Education in Haiti with Opportunity for Employment
By Sister Katherine Corr, SNDdeN,
Executive Director of Notre Dame Mission Volunteers
Sr. Katherine Corr, SNDdeN, Jack Foley, Business Consultant, Sr. Jeannette Pierre-Louis, SNDdeN and Sr. Simone Doricent, a Franciscan, (seated in front) finish a planning session for the Center and proposed bakery in La Savane.
Notre Dame Mission Volunteers (NDMV) are partnering with Notre Dame Family Education Center in Haiti to facilitate expanded educational access and job readiness. The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN) have been serving since 2009 in La Savane, a deprived neighborhood, located in the city of Les Cayes. Serving a community that has no social safety-net nor any basic government services, the Sisters opened a Center which provides basic education, health services, and job training skills. Guided by St. Julie Billiart’s educational principles, the Mission Volunteers with the Sisters educate for life. They are involved in a multi-year effort in planning for the future. They are engaging the people of La Savane in a transformational process for more services to increase access to education, vocational training, and basic needs like clean water and food for their families
Four full-time Mission Volunteers, recruited from the U.S. and La Savane community, are now involved throughout the year as co-leadership in literacy classes at the Center. They assist with projects related to needs outlined by the community. Inspired by commitment and energy of the people in the neighborhood, these American and Haitian volunteers work alongside nearly 200 women, adolescents, and children.
Volunteers Caitlin Clarke, Mirienne Samedy, and Widline Dirogène teach a morning literacy class at the Center.
In La Savane, these
• Give English classes to adolescents
• Lead an after-school literacy class for children
• Teach reading, writing, and math to children unable to afford school education
• Oversee a computer literacy course for young adults
• Help women in small craft industries already begun by teaching them math skills for these industries
• Lead community cleanups with people in the neighborhood
A Haitian Mission Volunteer gives a reading lesson in English to a small group of children
At the Center, the volunteers are currently aiding in the construction of a potable well, leading an agricultural program for young adults, and directing a meals program for students and other individuals in certain projects. One volunteer shared, “The strength of this program comes from the many people in La Savane who are involved.”
Haiti is currently ranked as the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere with 80% living under the poverty level, in being deprived of food security, access to clean water, education and employment. NDMV has been successful in establishing a strong partnership with the community and expanding the capacity of the Center to meet neighborhood needs. Like the country, the neighborhood, has many challenges. Most families cannot afford to send their children to school