The Upstream Solution

Like all of us here at The Haitian Project (THP), you have probably read or heard about the most recent UN report of climate change, warning of dire consequences as early as 2040 if the global community fails to take decisive action. We have also been watching with interest the bold efforts of Boyan Slat, who at just 24 years old is hoping to rid our oceans of plastic. (The Great Pacific Garbage Patch has an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic in it and takes up an area that is twice the size of Texas!)

Over three decades of work in a country that lacks the infrastructure and capacity to properly dispose of its trash has formed our own perspective: caring for the environment is a critical issue with two pieces of the puzzle—cleaning it up and developing upstream solutions that prevent pollution from occurring in the first place. 

While Mr. Slat and others work diligently to clean up the mess we have made, at Louverture Cleary School (LCS) we continue to be very conscious about keeping pollution from getting in the oceans and air in the first place.  

  An excerpt from Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si', which appeals to all people for the care of our common home, decorates the recycling area of the trash management center at Louverture Cleary School.

An excerpt from Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si', which appeals to all people for the care of our common home, decorates the recycling area of the trash management center at Louverture Cleary School.

Education is Always the Upstream Solution

Education is always the upstream solution, and in the case of caring for the environment, we can see why. Teaching future generations about environmental stewardship and equipping them with the skills and capacity to act on those values is paramount.

In a country where there is no infrastructure to support a sanitation system—no sewer lines, no garbage pickup, and no recycling centers—students, staff and Volunteers together have been composting, burning, recycling and burying every piece of trash that has been found on the campus. LCS is also completely solar sufficient and has its own septic system. 

  Students divide their garbage into drums: to compost, to burn, and to recycle. The drums are then distributed in the appropriate areas: the incinerator, the compost, and the recycling center.

Students divide their garbage into drums: to compost, to burn, and to recycle. The drums are then distributed in the appropriate areas: the incinerator, the compost, and the recycling center.

Having participated in LCS’ environmental stewardship programs, LCS students and alumni take what they learn at the school and bring it into their own homes and communities. 

LCS Philo (US 12th grade +1) student Guerlens Torchons reflects on his favorite environmental practices at LCS:

I like the incinerator and the compost. The incinerator helps us remove our trash from LCS. The ash from the incinerator helps the compost. The compost helps the growing of the plants. These two environmental practices at LCS change our trash into treasures. In this way, and others, LCS makes gold for the community and the country.

LCS Secondaire (US 10th grade) student Loudjine Philisthene wants to see more places around Haiti adopt a system like at LCS:

My favorite environmental practice at LCS is recycling, because I like when I am putting things in their assigned places and turning disorder into order. I don’t know other of any other places in Haiti that do clean up, recycling, and management like at LCS, but hopefully there will be. 

Join, Support, Rejoice in The Louverture Cleary Schools Network!

This week marks the opening of the thirty-first academic year at Louverture Cleary School and The Haitian Project (THP) has a very special way to honor it!

Introducing The Louverture Cleary Schools Network: a national network of tuition-free, Catholic, co-educational boarding schools throughout Haiti.

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THP is embarking on an ambitious plan to develop a national network of 10 schools, one in each governmental department in Haiti, in order to provide 3,600 students with a Louverture Cleary education and support 1,200 alumni with scholarships to Haitian universities each year. 

The move from one Louverture Cleary to The Louverture Cleary Schools Network will be a game-changer for Haiti—a big step forward in developing the human capital necessary for the nation to emerge out of centuries of poverty and chaos. It could also be a game-changer for the way people look at helping others—finally tipping the philanthropic scales towards education and empowerment.

To launch The Network in a big way, THP has released a powerful new video—Education Works—to help spread the message like a wildfire of reason to a world with far too many burnt-out ideas on how to “solve” poverty.  

Once a vision for THP, The Network is now a detailed and strategic marching order for the future—something new for THP, but not for the world. THP President Deacon Patrick Moynihan explains in a recent press release:

The reason we are so confident in the positive multiplier of education is not just because of our own mission’s success, but because of the Church’s long history providing education to immigrants, marginalized and disadvantaged people around the world. Catholic education has been extremely successful helping immigrants escape ghettos in the U.S. and around the world.

The Network plan is big. It’s bold. And we invite you to come along. Here’s how:

  • Join: Get yourself, your parish, school, or organization involved.  

  • Support: Please consider financially supporting our work to create The LCS Network with a one-time or ongoing donation
     
  • Rejoice: Together, let’s celebrate this moment! By your own support of THP, you have shaped a future of more LCS education and more opportunities for our graduates, their families, and their country. Don’t keep it a secret! The world loves good news! Share with your family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues that Education Works! Please share this post using the "share" button below. Thank you!

But, before you share, consider these words from THP Board Vice Chair Patrick Brun, a proud Haitian national, business leader, and catalyst for the flourishing of his country:

Haiti knows well that the way to build an organized and prosperous nation is through education. As a witness to the success of Louverture Cleary Schools for the past two decades, I have no hesitation about which road to choose for our future. The Louverture Cleary Schools Network will give new life to a country ready and eager to evolve. Today’s Louverturians have shown, through their leadership and accountability, what the Haitian citizen of tomorrow can be. The Network is more than hope. It is the technology by which Haiti will build itself into a strong nation!

100% Perfect! Congratulations to the LCS Class of 2018!

Each year in Haiti, students in Katryèm (U.S. 9th grade), Rheto (U.S. 12th grade), and Philo (U.S. 12th grade +1) classes spend three days taking the Baccalaureate, Haiti’s state exam. Passing the test is the only way to proceed to the next grade or, for Philo students, to university. With a historical pass rate now reaching close to 99 percent, Louverture Cleary School (LCS) has long held a reputation for excellence in Haiti.

This last week, LCS received word from the Haitian Ministry of National Education that 100 percent of the Philo class of 2018 have passed the Baccalaureate Exam.  

  The LCS Class of 2018 scored a perfect 100 percent on their Baccalaureate Exam.

The LCS Class of 2018 scored a perfect 100 percent on their Baccalaureate Exam.

For the Philo students, this means the enormous amount of energy they put into preparing for the exam has paid off, and they have achieved the requirement to attend university in Haiti. Through the LCS Office of External Affairs (OEA), THP is providing 50 percent of their class with a scholarship to university in Haiti. Working with partners in Haiti, the OEA will also ensure that those who are not awarded a scholarship directly are still able to find the support they need to go to university or begin their careers. 

LCS Principal Marjorie Mombrun is, of course, very pleased with this year’s Baccalaureate results: 

I am so proud that we continue to have such good results. It makes all the staff members proud because it shows that we are doing a good job. We are not just producing good students, but we are showing that the country of Haiti can change.  

The pass rate in LCS’s governmental region was 35 percent. The pass rate for the whole country was roughly 45 percent. When stacked against these statistics, it is clear that LCS does produce good students. However, like Mombrun indicates, LCS’s success means more than that. It is an indication that the country of Haiti is in need of more LCS education.  

A Bridge to the Future

Anyone who has visited Louverture Cleary School (LCS) knows that the bridge connecting the Chapel and the large Agora classroom building is crucial to the flow of students between classrooms, dorms and other areas of the school.  The bridge was built nearly a decade before the 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti in January 2010.  It was deemed serviceable by experts and state authorities during their evaluation of the campus after the quake. However, like the buildings, it was also included in the seismic renovation plans developed to meet the possibility of an even stronger earthquake in the future.   

This summer, The Haitian Project (THP) celebrates the completion of the bridge reconstruction because it marks the end of an eight-year process of seismic repairs and improvements! 

  The completed bridge connecting the Chapel and the large Agora classroom building, handsomely painted by the LCS Class of 2018.

The completed bridge connecting the Chapel and the large Agora classroom building, handsomely painted by the LCS Class of 2018.

The 2010 earthquake marked a difficult time in Haiti’s history and in THP’s history, too.  However, once again, God provided THP the right person for the right job at exactly the right time…

Kurt Daviscourt is a regional manager at BELFOR, a global leader in disaster recovery and property restoration.  With 8,700 employees in 31 countries, BELFOR is well equipped to respond effectively in any emergency.  THP witnessed this firsthand when Daviscourt, a friend of THP President Deacon Patrick Moynihan, travelled to LCS after the earthquake and analyzed all the repairs and improvements necessary to keep LCS buildings and students safe.  Brian Jones, a BEFLOR senior project manager, accompanied Daviscourt.

Together, Daviscourt and Jones were a welcome sight, not only lending their expertise on the LCS campus but also visiting LCS’ neighbors and the homes of LCS employees and their families, many of whom had been sleeping outdoors for fear of their homes collapsing.

Daviscourt recalls:

When you show up in a desperate situation like that with a hard hat and a clipboard, people are very eager to hear what you have to say.  It was a privilege to help dozens back into their homes, and show THP how they could fix homes in need of repair.

On campus, the plan of action developed by Daviscourt and Jones required pouring 54 shear walls. Generally, this involved placing two pairs of parallel single-pour, rebar-reinforced walls on each floor.  The work was carefully scheduled and prioritized based on building use and strength. Buildings were completed by 2014, leaving the bridge for last.

  (from left to right) BELFOR’s Kurt Daviscourt, THP President Deacon Patrick Moynihan, and Pacific Engineering Technologies' Mike Smith reunite at a Seattle Mariners game earlier this year.

(from left to right) BELFOR’s Kurt Daviscourt, THP President Deacon Patrick Moynihan, and Pacific Engineering Technologies' Mike Smith reunite at a Seattle Mariners game earlier this year.

Deacon Moynihan expressed his personal gratitude, noting: 

Without the assistance of Kurt Daviscourt and his professional BELFOR team, we would have spent years and a lot of money trying to derive a plan to retrofit the campus for the new requirements created by the earthquake. Instead, we were able to get started immediately and operate safely in the interim. I could never say enough good things about Kurt, Brian and BELFOR.

In February of 2018, the existing bridge was knocked down to make way for a new and improved bridge. Construction began in late March and finished in early June.  The graduating class of 2018 stayed on campus during graduation week to clean up and paint the school, including the rebuilt bridge.  Their class name, “Transcendence,” fit the task of putting the finishing touches on the bridge—a physical sign of overcoming adversity. 

This project also marks the first time that a member of THP’s junior staff took the lead on a campus building project.  THP's Odson Francois took a leadership role as the project manager—a great experience for him personally and reason for the community to feel proud.

Like LCS itself, the rebuilt bridge stands because of many who responded generously with their talents: students, staff, volunteers, construction crews, architects, and THP’s friends at BELFOR.  As THP plans to expand and create a network of schools throughout all of Haiti, the bridge is also a joyful reminder of the many hands that will help us get a good job done. 

On the Recent Unrest in Haiti

Dear THP Community Members,

As you may know, there have been widespread protests in Haiti over the past few days.

We want to assure you first and foremost that all is well on campus. Fortunately for us, school is out for the summer, but we have been taking every reasonable precaution to ensure the safety of our staff who remain at the school. 

While circumstances in Haiti, whether natural or man-made, occasionally present challenges, with nearly three decades of continuous operation and on-the-ground experience we are confident in our ability to make the best decisions possible in situations such as these.

We remain in regular communication with members of the Haitian private sector and others in Haiti who are helping us to understand and monitor the broader situation on the ground so that we can respond accordingly.

That said, at times like this there is always a tendency to see Haiti’s situation as hopeless or corrupt (to name just some of the descriptions we often hear).  As a result, people may decide that their donations are better placed elsewhere.

We argue instead that the disruption caused by natural disasters and political upheaval is precisely why people should invest more, not less, in the institutional capacity of Haiti to respond appropriately to these situations.  Funding quality education is one of the surest and most appropriate avenues for individual donors in the U.S. to address these issues.

Indeed, we are very focused on forming graduates who have both the capacity and the dedication to build a better future for the country to ensure that news reports like the ones we have been reading in recent days become less and less frequent.

Thank you for reading.  And, as always, if you do have any questions or concerns in light of recent events, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Peace,

The Haitian Project

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Growing Concerns with International Relief Organization "Food For The Poor"

Big problems come when helping the poor becomes a big business. The Haitian Project (THP) has recognized this for years and has fought, both in Haiti and in the U.S., for the support of authentic missionary work that is rooted within the Church and guided by the values of subsidiarity, solidarity, and conversion.  It is no accident that THP’s mission is to increase access to education.   

Think about it…  

There is a limit to what we can do for others and how much we can "change" another person and that person's life. However, there is virtually no limit to what a person can do for themselves with an education and access to a good job.  

Education is received freely by the recipient. Since a child cannot pay for his or her own education, it is necessary that it be provided by others; either parents or the community. The result of receiving an education however, does not create dependency, but empowers a person to gain the other things necessary for life. It is both natural and appropriate to give education.

Education is the best multiplier. In Haiti, like in our own nation, education is the surest way out of poverty and to a higher income.  This is recognized by Haitian parents and Church and civic leaders alike. (Click here to read an interesting article detailing a conversation between Chicago Mayor and Brown University President on this.) 


  Is it appropriate to make poverty merely survivable, when you can actually make it escapable? (Photo from www.foodforthepoor.org.)

Is it appropriate to make poverty merely survivable, when you can actually make it escapable? (Photo from www.foodforthepoor.org.)

For over a decade, Food For The Poor (FFP) has stood out for the questionable ways it seems to conduct its business. In fact, THP has frequently raised concerns about FFP as it appears to have a special knack for giving unneeded, unhelpful, and unsustainable gifts to the poor of Haiti.  In our own experience, we have received gifts that ranged in “usefulness” from a stack of Rachael Ray Cookbooks, to beans that contained so many rocks that our cooks refused to use them.

Now, a recent cease and desist order filed against FFP by the Attorney General of California has provided additional reason for concern.

An analysis of the situation by Slate Magazine does a great job explaining what THP has argued for years:

By overinflating its in-kind contributions…Food for the Poor can claim to be much more efficient than it really is. The charity claims prominently on its homepage that 95.6 percent of “expenditures” were on programs, while just 4.4 percent were on fundraising and administration. That…reassures donors that their money is being put to good use, feeding the poor. But Food for the Poor’s ratios are a function of using a highly inflated denominator…. The upshot is that 1 of every 3 cash dollars donated to Food for the Poor in 2015 was spent on either management or fundraising—and that’s using the charity’s own expansive definition of what counts as a “program service expense.” 

Click the button below to read the full Slate Magazine article, "Inflated Expectations."

 

The Boston Globe recently published a cover story about Food For The Poor's questionable practices as well. THP President Deacon Patrick Moynihan and his wife Christina, who have lived and worked in Haiti for the greater part of the last twenty years, are quoted in the article expressing their concerns with the organization. 

"They are gaming the industry, because those of us who are not gaming cannot beat those ratios.  Food for the Poor is very likely taking donations from compassionate, well-intentioned individuals of modest means in order to help corporations dispose of their trash."

 - THP President Dcn. Patrick Moynihan in The Boston Globe, 6-3-18

Click the button below to read the full Boston Globe article on Food For The Poor.


So, why do we care about what Food For The Poor is doing?

It corrupts the nonprofit sector.  FFP’s fundraising model creates a perverse incentive for all nonprofits to find ways to understate their administrative expenses and overstate their program numbers in order to compete with the “efficiency” marketed by FFP and organizations with similar models.  That FFP and similar organizations operate (and thrive) in this manner greatly risks undermining the public’s trust in the sector as a whole.  And that is bad news for all of us. 

This is not just our opinion, but is based on reports in the press or other public filings of investigations in CA, MN, MI, FL and MA. Or consider, for example, how Slate Magazine recently described some of the likely practices of an organization that claims to be a champion of the poor as “…morally dubious, at best…ironically [delivering] Money for the Rich.”  (You can find the link to the full article below.) 

We have Haiti’s back. We are in the fight alongside Haitians committed to building a stronger and highly functional country so that Haiti’s people may escape poverty, not merely become more comfortable within it.  Our decades of on-the-ground experience in Haiti have given us strong connection to Haitian private-sector leaders and others who have raised serious concerns about FFP’s activity and their propensity to undermine and impede Haiti’s institutional development.  This works at cross-purposes with what we and our partners in Haiti dream the country can become.   

We care about the Church’s mission. FFP, an ecumenical organization, raises a significant amount of money from Catholic parishes around the country.  That means that there is less money to support the Church at home and authentic Catholic missionary work abroad. 

Volunteer Family Returns to LCS

April 11, 2018

Rachel and Nick Carter first came to LCS as Volunteers in 2011.  This spring, the Carters have generously responded to the call to return to LCS; this time with their young children Peter and Phillip. 

Rachel has picked up where she left off teaching English and Spanish at the school.  Meanwhile, Nick works at St. Francois de Sales Hospital in Port-au-Prince.  Among other projects, he is working with the Haitian Association of Surgerns to help prepare a trauma course for Haitian physicians that will be taught at the hospital in May.

A few words from an LCS Volunteer family:  

“We see these ten weeks at LCS as a trial run for a long-term commitment in Haiti.  We want our boys to grow up with the lessons that were reinforced for us at LCS – that progress requires hard work, that everyone can and should contribute to their community, and that faith drives commitment to justice. We are inspired by the commitment to Matthew 10:8 – “Freely you have received; freely give.”  We have been blessed with opportunities for graduate training in both education and surgery.  LCS offers a chance to share these blessings with a community and that means a great deal to us. Deacon Moynihan often talks about how the results of education speak for themselves. I find that to be a tangible truth at LCS.”

-Rachel Carter, Volunteer ’11-’12 and current English & Spanish teacher

 Rachel Carter remarked recently on the joy of seeing the progress her former students have made: “They are now finishing degrees in engineering, medicine, nursing,education, and business management. Lochard Laguerre, an 11th grade student in 2011, recently cared for my youngest son Philip (17 months) during a bout with strep throat.  Each graduate is the product of a strong community…”  

Rachel Carter remarked recently on the joy of seeing the progress her former students have made: “They are now finishing degrees in engineering, medicine, nursing,education, and business management. Lochard Laguerre, an 11th grade student in 2011, recently cared for my youngest son Philip (17 months) during a bout with strep throat.  Each graduate is the product of a strong community…”  

“There are so many interrelated hurdles to building a health system that can stand on its own in Haiti.  We have to respect Haitian leadership in setting specific priorities.  On the macro level, more than 90% of the population lacks health insurance and must pay out of pocket for medical care.  This makes even fundamental care prohibitively expensive for a large swath of the population unless it is provided on a charitable basis.  In the long run, the nation needs a stronger economy so that local professionals can maintain a living while providing care for the population at large.  The situation at the hospital at times is pretty tough, but I am always encouraged when I return to LCS and see the groundwork for a different Haiti being laid through education.” 

- Nick Carter, M.D., Volunteer ’11-’12 and visiting physician at St. Francois de Sales Hospital, Port-au-Prince

 Dr. Carter operating with Dr. Mertuse and Dr. Eustache at St. Francois de Sales Hospital, a large Catholic hospital built in Haiti's capital in 1881 and destroyed by the 2010 earthquake.  It was reopened in August of 2015 in collaboration with Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Health Association, and the Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince. 

Dr. Carter operating with Dr. Mertuse and Dr. Eustache at St. Francois de Sales Hospital, a large Catholic hospital built in Haiti's capital in 1881 and destroyed by the 2010 earthquake.  It was reopened in August of 2015 in collaboration with Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Health Association, and the Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince.