Since 2010 I have worked and partnered with a Brooklyn-based nonprofit organization called Community2Community. They help to build self-sufficient communities in Haiti, by working with the community.
The organization is focused on tackling four areas the impacted the people of Piton, a mountainside village just outside of Petit Goave, Haiti:
1. Building a road to allow supplies to come in and out the community, as well as allow commerce and transportation to take place more efficient and effectively.
2. Reforest the mountainside, which had been ravaged after years of excessive production of chabon, which is Creole for charcoal.
3. Providing a centralized clean water source, so that the people of the community no longer have to spend 6-8 hours a day fetching buckets of water to perform their daily tasks; such as cooking, laundry and bathing.
4. Rebuild the school that had been damaged by the earthquake and subsequently destroyed due to a series of hurricanes.
Being a teacher, I naturally gravitated towards the rebuilding of the school. After a few conversations and brainstorming with Marie Eusebe, the found of C2C and I came up with an fundraiser called Change04Change. It started off as a basic operation of having students and staff members bringing in loose change and donating it to our cause, coupled with a bake sale and a few other activities. The homeroom that raised the most money won a pizza party and was celebrated at a school-wide assembly. Our goal has always been that and we have met our goal essentially each year. Our hope is to get as many schools in the New York City area to do the same. But it has not been an easy task.
Five years later, Change04Change has evolved into a more focused and engaging initiative. During the month of May which is Haitian Heritage Month we not only fund raise, but we really engage our students throughout the month.
1.Our Global Citizen Essay Contest– students write essays about what it means to be a global citizen and how they can get involved in assisting with our efforts in Petit Goave. The top three finalists are awarded at our annual Hope and a Future Celebration.
2. Hats04Haiti– students and staff all wear the hat of their choice for a day and give a kind donation to show their support.
3. Flag Day & Dance04Haiti– In commemoration of Haitian Flag Day, students wear the flags of their national origin to school and after school, students who make a donation can come and celebrate at the school’s Dance04Haiti celebration.
4. Hoops04Haiti– The students and staff play each other in a “friendly” game of basketball. It’s a great way to celebrate what our kids already love, but also bring the school together to play for a purpose.
This year something special happened. After years of tension with our neighboring school, as we are in co-located space. We were able to work collaboratively to have a game in which our students played our neighboring school’s students and then the staffs of each school played each other. We all came together for a good cause and as a result have started the beginning of a beautiful partnership between my school, which is a charter school and our neighboring school, which is a public school.
Thus far we have raised nearly $800 but are still well short of our goal of $1000. After sending out a thank you email to all the staff members and everyone involved, the assistant principal from our neighboring school called me down to his office and said “We didn’t make our mark, I want to make sure that you reach your goal of $1000. Let’s have a rematch before the end of the school.”