Collaboration with GROW Haiti
In addition to maintaining contact with the La Soufriere community and other past project collaborators, GROW Haiti is in the process of launching a new set of initiatives in collaboration with The GROW Project, Inc. The GROW Haiti board has been working to establish priorities related to economic development, youth leadership, and waste management in the North Department of Haiti. They are exploring strategies to address gaps in investment opportunities and take advantage of interest by the Haitian government, international partners, and communities in improving the economy and the environment in northern Haiti. One exciting new collaboration with with the Partinariat Pour de Développment Local (PDL) to provide larger loans to successful farmer cooperatives near St. Rafael, Haiti.
Greenbrier Valley, WV
GROW’s office in West Virginia has recently moved and is now housed in the new Montwell Commons facility in downtown Lewisburg, WV. We are working to enhance our presence and creating additional ways for residents in the Greenbrier Valley to have direct connections with communities in other parts of the world through mutually beneficial channels. One such channel is through stocking more Haitian (and other international) products in local stores in Lewisburg, WV. Another is to re-activate youth connections between schools or other youth programming and youth in communities in Haiti or elsewhere through sharing of art, dialogue, and language exchange. We will be taking several steps forward in the coming months, and we welcome collaborators and ideas for moving these priorities forward!
The GROW Project began its efforts in La Soufriere in response to the cholera epidemic. We established a concrete presence in a rural area in the mountains near Cap Haitien to provide healthcare to a population of about 10,000 who, even before the earthquake in January 2010, had no heath care infrastructure. Since 2011 GROW has established a community-based and run cholera clinic staffed and organized entirely by our Haitian team and La Soufriere community members. GROW and our Haitian partners have completed a water project system and are working to finish a permanent health care building for the community. The time period of January through July 2012, GROW has supported our Haitian team to become a more equal and independent partner in our work together through adding structure, equipment, and improving leadership and management skills.
Our teams began teaching leadership courses in Haiti in the winter of 2010-2011. During these courses students read famous writers, discussed what it means to be a leader in their own lives as well as their communities, and designed their own Leadership Guide.
Children are the future of Haiti and education is the key to sustainable development of a community. Through generous donations to sponsor ten kindergarten and first grade aged children, The GROW Project was able to open the doors to our primary school The Carver Institute, in October 2011. The curriculum focused on storytelling, song, mathematics, and language skills. “The students improved by leaps and bounds,” said Sonson, a member of the GROW Haiti team, who was involved in running the school. We provided scholarships for excellent students who could not afford to pay the school tuition. The school ran for three years, during which time several other schools were established in the neighborhood, including with international sponsors, and so other educational opportunities became available to local children after which the school was closed again.
In addition to the primary school, a series of leadership and English programs were also run in the same facility in the afternoons. A series of dedicated Haitian and American teachers provided ongoing classes as well as intensive short courses to students ranging from elementary school through professional adults.