Building Hope: Creating a Brighter Future for Haiti

As we shared in our blog last fall, the poverty and years of exploitation that the countries we work in experience can very easily lead to violence and instability. That unfortunate reality has become increasingly clear in Haiti during the past few weeks, as the country has been embroiled in worsening political and economic turmoil. 

Haiti, the economically poorest country in North America and the western hemisphere as a whole, has been scarred by many crises going all the way back to its colonial past. However, the situation has worsened significantly since July 2021, when then-President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated.

In the wake of the assassination, Prime Minister Ariel Henry assumed power, but his legitimacy was widely disputed. This led to a crisis of leadership when the country needed it most, as just one month after Moïse’s death, Haiti was rocked by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake. 

In the ensuing instability, Criminal gangs have become extremely powerful. They are particularly powerful in the capital of Port-au-Prince, where, as of today, they control an estimated 80% of the city. This violence has forced thousands of people to flee their homes and disrupted daily life. Just last month, Henry announced he would resign, only further adding to the uncertainty that grips the country. 

The combination of violence and political instability has created a humanitarian crisis, with many Haitians facing food insecurity and limited access to basic necessities. By all accounts, the situation in Haiti is dire.

In situations like this, our work of building schools, promoting adult literacy, and getting students back into the classroom can be extremely difficult. But at the same time, it becomes more important. Long-running economic instability underpins many of Haiti’s problems, and literacy and numeracy is linked to economic growth. In fact, no country has ever achieved rapid and continuous economic growth without having at least 40% of its adults being literate.

In spite of, or perhaps because of, everything that’s going on in their home country, our Haiti team remains laser-focused on their work. Recently, we’ve broken ground on one new school, completed another, and started adult literacy classes in multiple communities in the country.  

We’re immensely proud of the resilience and determination our Haiti team has shown. “They have been able to travel to communities. We broke ground on our first Haiti school of 2024 on March 14 and scheduled the next one for April 10,” says Djibril Ouattara, our Chief Global Program Officer. “That shows how our work maintains hope and resilience for the communities in Haiti.”

Though the entire country is being affected by the violence and unrest radiating out from the capital, conditions in the communities that we work in Les Cayes, in southwestern Haiti, are more stable. Because of this, disruptions to classes have been minimal–in fact, following their Easter break, all buildOn schools in Haiti are open!

Right now, while hundreds of schools in Port-au-Prince are closed, there are 49,360 people attending buildOn schools in Haiti. That’s almost 50 thousand Haitians learning to read, write, and other skills that will set them up for success in the future. 

“Our work maintains hope and resilience for the communities in Haiti.”

Djibril Ouattara, buildOn Chief Global Program Officer

If the situation stays stable in Les Cayes, we should be able to build the 10 schools we have planned to build in Haiti this year. We will keep carefully monitoring the situation in Haiti and make adjustments if necessary to keep our team safe.

The situation in Haiti is complex, but we remain steadfast in our commitment to creating a better future alongside the Haitian people. In these uncertain times, we can’t help but feel inspired by our team in Haiti. In the middle of such adversity, they push on and tirelessly work to expand literacy and access to education in their country. We’re proud to work alongside them.

Help us build a better, more stable future for Haiti! If you can, please consider making a tax-deductible donation today.