UHUK

United Haitians in the United Kingdom strive to make a positive contribution in the development of Haiti by supporting community educational projects. We also keep the Haitian culture alive in the United Kingdom by organising various events.

Initiative

Crowdfunding campaign

Since 2009, UHUK have been supporting the AHADEPA school, a community initiative providing education to children from families in extreme financial distress. Following the 2010 Earthquake, the school not only lost the church hosting their classrooms but some of the students suffered injuries and one life was lost. Despite such devastation the children returned to school within four months and continued to study under a tent which was donated on a plot of land rented by UHUK. That tent is still in use today.

After four years of struggle due to difficult administrative procedures related to land ownership, UHUK successfully purchased of a piece of land in 2015.

Now we’ve started the AHADEPA PROJECT to raise funds to finance the construction of a new sustainable and anti-seismic school in 2016. Please consider making a donation today to help make this possible!

Link: http://igg.me/at/ahadepa-project

Initiative

The Photobook

A photo book has been published in limited edition where our UHUK member Gerald Marie-Nelly depicts what he has seen and experienced with the AHADEPA community in February 2016. The resilience of the school staff and the innocent happiness of those kids definitely resonated in him. We hope that you will enjoy the art and the narrative but more importantly relate and comprehend what UHUK is trying to achieve, investing in our children for a better tomorrow.
This photo book is dedicated to the AHADEPA pupils and will be available at our London exhibition before being offered as perks in our crowdfunding campaign.

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Initiative

The Exhibition

UHUK’s main goal for 2016 is to build the AHADEPA school in Carrefour Haiti.
In February 2016, UHUK did a photography documentary in the current school premises and followed various members of the AHADEPA community during their daily routines to expose the teaching and living conditions.

The result is a a photography exhibition taking place in London June 20th to 25th and the publication of a photobook alongside a crowdfunding campaign. The venue which has a gallery space will be the first Haitian Coffee shop in London “Kafe 1788” opening this month near Canary Wharf. Save the dates & Come along!

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Documentary

Teacher Domond

Discover teacher’s Domond dedication to the AHADEPA school where he is teaching as well as taking care of children safety around the premises. Observe the will to educate against all odds while teacher Domond works in another school every afternoon as well as the hope gained from spirituality when the teacher becomes the preacher in his local church in the evening. Discover more in the photo book, consider participating to our crowdfunding campaign to help us build the new sustainable AHADEPA school.

GOOD MORNING Education as a higher calling

6:44

Teacher Wilfrid Domond lives with his wife in a small shed not too far from the school. Half of the unique room is full of books about education and religion. He is actually giving the sermon during the school morning activities before class which include prayers, National anthem singing and stretching.

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I wish we had more books to know more about other cultural, political and educative systems Wilfrid Domond

9:52

Classes run from 8:30am to 12pm or 1pm with a break at 10am. Teacher Domond is also responsible for the pupils security outside the school when those who can afford it get out to buy snacks during breaks.

Support students Bringing them to the other side

12:56

On the way back to school, teacher Domond escorts a few pupils who live in his neighborhood due to a busy and dangerous road to cross in between. In the afternoon, Maitre Domond teaches in another school from 2PM to 5PM.

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17:46

Evenings are dedicated to church. When Maitre Domond is not preaching, he is simply attending the cult with his wife and the community.

 
Found out about how teacher Domond manages kids hunger and where his wife works at the school in the photo book.

Documentary

Pupils Bechilove & Benaldson

Meet the Exume family, the children Bechilove and Benaldson, the parents Chera and Benadi. Explore the parents’ difficulties to make ends meet, the children positive attitude towards school and learning, the realities of many families from the AHADEPA community simply aspiring for a better life. Discover more in the photo book, consider participating to our crowdfunding campaign to help us build the new sustainable AHADEPA school.

GOOD MORNING Love and determination

7:03

The Exume family is getting the kids ready for school. Rice and bean sauce for breakfast followed by hair styling, shower, and shoe cleaning. Mother Chera is currently struggling with different small jobs every day, mostly selling in the streets various items bought in bulk. Father Benadi lost his job lately and is trying to find handyman jobs around.

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8:12

Students start the day with morning activities including singing the national anthem, prayers and a stretching session.

Flexible Hours Learning on empty bellies

11:23

Benaldson and Bechilove are lucky to eat twice or three times a day. Some of their schoolmates only eat once a day hence the school finishing at 12PM instead of 2PM sometimes due to kids hunger.

Kids first Provide for one's family

13:42

Kids have rice and peas for lunch, parents eat once a day and have lunch if there are leftovers. Chera goes back to work in the afternoon while Benadi takes care of Bechilove and Benaldson. Evenings are spent cooking food and getting the kids ready for another day at school.

Found out about where the father Benadi used to work and how he lost his job or how long father and mother has been together in the photo book.

Documentary

Director Innocent

A day with Co-Director Rene “Maitre” Innocent. Discover the living conditions of the school head and his determination to provide education to kids from families in financial distress. Follow him while he is dealing with parents, teachers and pupils issues throughout the day. Uncover the never ending quest to knowledge when Maitre Innocent pursues his education in the afternoon by studying for a law degree. Discover more in the photo book, consider participating to our crowdfunding campaign to help us build the new sustainable AHADEPA school.

Good Morning Sacrifices and Resilience

6:37

Getting ready for work, quick wash near his donated tent where he lives during the week so he can be near the school. Maitre Innocent’s family stays in a small shed outside the city where he goes the weekends. He is married with three kids.

Running a school Every day Challenges

8:42

Usually, first hours are spent dealing with various issues. Many parents cannot afford the school registration fees which are quite low (equivalent of a meal bought in a street food stall) hence the daily negotiations for instalments. Teachers and pupils might also request materials for classes or projects, unfortunately the school can barely provide the basic school supplies.
Sorting small conflicts between the kids, find ways to pay teachers wages and renewing the school state accreditation are other examples of matters to deal with on a daily basis.

Our main priorities are to build a safe school for those kids and insure teachers wages Rene Innocent

Never ending education On teaching and learning

15:21

Every afternoon, Maitre Innocent goes to a University for working adults to study for a Law degree. This law class running from 3PM to 5PM is about material damage and criminal law. Most evenings are spent preparing another day at school and studying for the law degree.

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Found out about many other daily interactions between Maitre Innocent and AHADEPA community members in the photo book.

Project

The Story

Behind the AHADEPA school lies a story of people getting together to help children from struggling families in economic distress. Several community members helped a lot but the man behind the original idea and the project is co-director Ricot Osias. He gave us a chronological account of the development of what became the Ahadepa school.

2003

Ricot joined an association with the youths from his old neighbourhood in Cote-Plage zone 16 (in Carrefour, Port-au-Prince). That’s when he realized that getting people together was very powerful to alleviate community difficulties. He kept in mind that leading others to help each other was something he wanted to do.

2005

Ricot moved to the neighbourhood where the school is now and joined the local church. He started to participate to the evangelisation program in January in the difficult Matobou area near the sea (where Bechilove and Benaldson live). The tasks involved to meet families in distress and convince them to join the church community or at least accept help.

At 3pm one day, while preaching from door to door, he met a woman washing clothes while breastfeeding a baby. Two other kids were playing marbles in the dirt and a third one was blowing a fire between three stones to cook some peas. The children hygiene was poor and it was obvious that they did not go to school.

The Bible preaching was a lot shorter than usual and Ricot explained that it was at that exact moment that he had a revelation. He was shocked by the scene and thought about the hundreds of people living in the same conditions in the same coastal area.

The church main aim was to preach and convert while not fixing the problems. Ricot and a few young members from the congregation organised together and that’s how the “Association des Humanistes pour Aider les Demunis du Pays” (Humanist Association to help the poor of the country) was born in March 2005.

AHADEPA stands for ASSOCIATION des HUMANISTES pour AIDER les DEMUNIS du PAYS (Humanist Association to help the poor of the country)

The first steps of the AHADEPA association this first year was to get an office borrowed from a generous community member and start a roster. The same technique used for evangelisation was applied to find out names, age and addresses of kids not going to school in the various community zones.

2006

Once a significant list of children out of the education system was compiled, Ricot who was president and administrator of the association, met Maitre Rene Innocent which was an AHADEPA member and a professor in a school called Maitre Thomas. Ricot and Maitre Innocent decided that the next step was to start a school.

They needed premises, teachers, furnitures and school supplies for kids whose families could not help financially. At this stage, the teachers would be volunteers from the association and the local church committee authorized the school to be set on the upper level of their premises which was an unused and ramshackle space. Money was needed for school supplies as well as benches, tables and school boards. A school sign was set outside the church and documents explaining the project and the kids situation was printed to convince potential donors within the community. Many small business owners and others were reluctant to donate due to either lack of interest, funds or due to many conmen operating in the area.

One small business which gave Ricot a morale boost was the hardware store “Pazapa”. The manager understood the project and asked for legit and official papers. Ricot provided the attestation from the Social affair ministry and the shop owner donated 2000 gourdes. Although this is the equivalent of $32 US, Ricot and Maitre Innocent felt like it was 2,000,000 dollars! This allowed them to buy second hand furnitures, and pieces of wood for benches and boards. School supplies were also donated.

Monday October 2nd 2006, the school officially opened.

The school opened for five levels of classes (Preschool to 4th year of primary school). Although children families were experiencing extreme financial difficulties, small fees were requested to at least operate the school. The inscription cost was 25 gourdes (40 cents) and the annual fee was 300 gourdes ($4 US). Many parents did not pay at all. Ricot allowed it since the objective of the association and the school was to help those in hardship. At the same time, volunteering teachers started to ask for a small wage thinking that fees were getting paid.

2007

While Ricot was sensible about asking school fees to parents, Maitre Innocent asked to try the role of full time school director in an attempt to be more rigid on the fees matter. It never changed. Since Maitre Innocent was well known in the community as a competent teacher and Ricot had a compiled list of unschooled kids, they both managed to get 130 students this second year.

Problems between the direction and the parents or teachers were sometimes hard to manage. Parents were trying to bypass Maitre Innocent by smooth talking Ricot to avoid school fees. Volunteering teachers turnover were also getting shorter since most of them were giving up due to the absence of a real wage. Sometimes, Ricot and Maitre Innocent ended up teaching two classes at the same time each.

2008

Ricot used to give driving lessons as his main job (he now drives ambulances for one of the busiest hospital of Port-au-Prince) since he is not working full time at the school like Maitre Innocent. He met a young 17 years old named Christian Billy for driving license and his mother Doctor Carole Billy during those years and kept in touch.

In 2008, Christian went to England where he met Carole Attis, a Haitian expatriate willing to participate in an educational project to give back to the Mother Land. Christian introduced Carole to his mother and both Carole(s) clicked.

Dr Billy mentioned the AHADEPA school while Carole was creating the association UHUK in November 2008 (today a registered charity). Doctor Billy was effectively the link between Carole and Ricot Osias.

The first UHUK donation to AHADEPA was $400 dollars (24,000 gourdes) which was astronomical at the time and definitely helped to make some progress. The priority was to pay all debts including the now non-volunteers teachers wages. Then, two levels of classes were added (5th and 6th year of primary school). A National exam needs to be passed after year 6 and all efforts were made to register the school at the State level.

The first inspection report of the school by the Education Ministry showed mixed results. The school was still at the upper level of the church and the main concerns were related to the hygiene. Only one toilet for 130 students, classrooms were not separated and the premises were not in a good shape.

Nevertheless, the inspector sent Ricot to the DDO main office (Direction Departementale de l’Ouest) were he first met a second inspector who gave him a negative feedback as well as a “nobody sent you to start a school”.

While walking back the corridor, luck stroke again when another inspector from Carrefour crossed path with Ricot. This inspector was more attentive and believed that the situation was not as bad as it sounded. He gave a list of things to do to Ricot and also sent a letter to his superior which later on gave the attestation and authorization for the AHADEPA school students to attend National exams.

2009

The school almost terminated that year says Ricot. A new Pastor came to the church and was against the school running upstairs. He claimed that it was too filthy compared to the ground floor were the evangelisation was taking place. Ricot argued that the co-directors were not remunerated and that the parents of the kids could eventually be converted, but to no avail.

The Pastor requested to stop the school without delay and claimed that it was not a school of the church but a school on the church premises.

As an influent member of the church committee, Ricot attempted an ultimatum. If the Pastor was putting all those kids back in the streets, Ricot and Maitre Innocent would bring all the parents in front of the church. Their argument was not to show disrespect to the Pastor but to do the right thing as Christians and as community leaders.

All the other members of the AHADEPA association affiliated to the church committee voted against Ricot and Maitre Innocent. Ricot was caught in a corner, there was no solution until a woman from the church borrowed them an empty house for the school.

It was not ideal but they managed to stay a few months until the property owners needed the place back in September. At this stage, the only other place they knew was still the church. Although Ricot and Maitre Innocent were determined to defend their case again, they were truly worried about the outcome. To make things more complicated, the Pastor changed again and Ricot thought that he would simply follow in his predecessor’s foot steps.

While Ricot was presenting some initiatives for the church, the new Pastor was quite impressed by his oratory skills. In the next church committee meeting, the Pastor asked all leaders who they were including Ricot. He asked Ricot if he was paid for any AHADEPA projects and decided that the school could re-integrate the church premises.

The new Pastor claimed “What is the problem if a guy is giving all his energy to a church and a school while not getting paid!?”. The next five months were so peaceful for the AHADEPA school but it was the calm before the storm.

2010

The worst earthquake that hit Haiti on 12 January 2010 affected almost 3.5 millions people including the entire population of 2.8 million people living in Port-au-Prince. Carrefour being part of Port-au-Prince, the church was not spared and got destroyed.

Luckily enough, the kids were not in the church when the earthquake stroke but one of the student lost a leg. Many families relocated in the countryside and the number of students dropped.

The school started to run again in March but was outdoor in a land near the church. School boards and parasols were donated by Save the Children and a big tent (still in use) was given by ADRA (Agence du Development Rural Adventiste).

UHUK could not help to build a school on the land of the church and everybody was scared to build anything that year. UHUK did several visits in 2010 (Carole Attis and her sister Nadege) to set programs for food and communicated on the UK medias such as BBC as they were the sole Haitian association at the time in England.

Many events were organised for fundraising and donations which allowed UHUK to send six containers of goods to Haiti.
Three containers for RHASADE (Reseau Haitien pour la Sante et le Developpement) and three for AHADEPA. Not all containers managed to reach the AHADEPA school mostly due to corruption and the chaotic organization at the custom level during the post-earthquake period.

2011

Government donations paid for the rent of the land where the school was located since March 2010 as an effort to assist communities hit by the earthquake. This program stopped in 2012.

2012

Since 2012, UHUK started to rent another plot of land (current location) for the children to have class and donated money for school supplies and to build the shed where the year 4th, 5th and 6th classrooms are located. The classrooms for the preschool, year 1, 2 and 3 are in the big tent given by ADRA. The number of students went up to 169 pupils.

UHUK struggled since 2010 to find a piece of land to buy due to ownership conflicts in the area and an extremely slow process to update land ownership by the DGI (Direction Generale des Impots). Nevertheless, the purchase of a piece of land was finalized in 2015 and a wall was built around it to avoid land theft.

The next steps will be for UHUK to build a sustainable AHADEPA school to gain more autonomy and carry on its mission to alleviate extreme conditions through education. Check out the dream.

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Discover more in the photo book, consider participating to our crowdfunding campaign to help us build the new sustainable AHADEPA school.

Project

The Dream

The AHADEPA school was created in 2006 for kids who were not going to school because their parents could not afford it (most schools are private in Haiti and many unregulated). After giving classes in a church prior 2010 and under tents ever since, our wish is for the ten years of existence of the school to be able to settle in a safe environment that would foster the dissemination of knowledge.

The ultimate goal of the AHADEPA PROJECT is to create a sustainable environment where the school could be totally autonomous. The plan is to provide the following:

  • In the morning, classes to kids from families in financial distress for very low fees (or no fees).
  • In the afternoon, professional courses and workshops for adults at reasonable prices that will be used to run the school and pay the teachers wages. Co-directors Ricot Osias and Maitre Innocent are currently preparing a plan regarding those professional workshops with craftsmen within the community.
  • one energy packed snack a day per kids until the school can afford to provide a meal
  • annual visits of professionals from the UK to train people from the community (long term)

The cost of the school is based on a final quote selected out of three different builders. The selected company includes buildings for the government in their portfolio. We tried to lower the cost has much as we could but anti-seismic structures and materials coming from America are preferred in the industry and we would like for the school to last generations.

The piece of land bought by UHUK last year has been protected with a wall to avoid theft and later keep the students on the premises.

Engineer plans of the two storey school and costs breakdown have also been provided.

Why we need your help

When children and teachers of the AHADEPA are willing to endure extreme challenges to ensure this generation has the necessary skills to have a brighter future, we personally feel it is our responsibility to assist them as they become empowered.

This is where your support is so essential. We need you to assist UHUK in building the AHADEPA school that will provide a safe, nurturing learning environment for the children.

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These children are Haiti’s future and with the correct guidance, support and education they can become the leaders of tomorrow and take Haiti forward into its promising future.
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Please join us in this mission.
Discover more in the photo book, consider participating to our crowdfunding campaign to help us build the new sustainable AHADEPA school.

Project

The Situation

The AHADEPA school is a non-government community funded school in Carrefour Haiti which UHUK began supporting in 2009.

The school has been operating since 11th September 2006 and the number of students went up to 169 pupils. Headteacher Ricot Osias has been dedicated to the school from the start and is eager to help in the development of his community, where too many children are unable to attend school and achieve any kind of formal education because their parents do not have the means to provide for them.

Since 2012, UHUK started to rent a plot of land (current location) for the children to have class and donated money for school supplies.

Four classrooms are located in a big tent provided by ADRA (Agence du Development Rural Adventiste) while two others are located in a shed. Both structures are quite frail and time-worn. For instance, classes are canceled when it is raining due to leaks or if the weather brings strong winds such as during the cyclone season.

This was considered as temporary solutions during the post-earthquake period in 2010 but it remained the current situation due to difficulties to find a piece of land to purchase.

Hygiene status is enough to get the Education Ministry attestation although there is room for improvement. There are a couple of “pit latrines” for both genders as well as a urinal area.

Without running water at school, students have to buy pockets of drinkable water when they are thirsty which is a problem if they cannot afford it.
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UHUK struggled since 2010 to find a piece of land to buy due to ownership conflicts in the area and an extremely slow process to update land ownership by the DGI (Direction Generale des Impots). Nevertheless, the purchase of a piece of land was finalized in 2015 and a wall was built around it to avoid land theft.

The next steps will be for UHUK to build a sustainable AHADEPA school to gain more autonomy and carry on its mission to alleviate extreme conditions through education. Check out the dream. Discover more in the photo book, consider participating to our crowdfunding campaign to help us build the new sustainable AHADEPA school.