The Haitian Project (THP) is pleased to announce Living Life Deliberately – A Missionary’s Journey with Christina Moynihan, a popular speaking tour at Catholic parishes and schools around the United States featuring THP Director of Community Development Christina Moynihan.
Christina, together with her husband THP President Deacon Patrick Moynihan and their four children, has helped to provide tuition-free, Catholic, secondary education to gifted students in Haiti for over 20 years.
Christina is available to give a unique presentation about lessons learned while living deliberately for the Gospels as a missionary in an authentic Catholic community in Haiti at your school, parish, or home.
Her background in education helps her deliver THP’s message to every audience from a kindergarten class to a Knights of Columbus council. She holds a M.Ed. and is a life-long educator, though it is her life experience of living 20+ years in Haiti that gives her the fire to draw more people into understanding that education is an essential tool in the fight against poverty.
Following the popular shopping events of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday kicks off the charitable season with millions of people participating globally. This year on November 27, consider supporting education—an upstream solution to poverty, pollution, crime and disease.
The Haitian Project (THP) through its Louverture Cleary School (LCS) in Port-au-Prince provides life-changing education to academically talented and motivated students from Haitian families who otherwise could not afford the cost of their education. THP also provides university scholarships to over 100 LCS alumni in Haiti each year.
After over 30 years of operation, 90 percent of LCS alumni are either attending university or gainfully employed in Haiti, earning over 10x Haiti's per capita income.
Today, THP has its sights set on building The Louverture Cleary Schools Network: a national system of 10 schools, one in each department of Haiti, that will significantly increase access to quality education and economic opportunity in Haiti.
BUT—we need your help to get there! A gift today will go a long way towards building a brighter tomorrow for Haiti. No donation is too big nor too small. And, even if you can’t give, you can help by spreading the word or becoming a volunteer.
Big Ideas Behind Giving Tuesday
Created by the team at the Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact in New York City, which has been bringing people together around the values of service and giving back since 1874, #GivingTuesday connects diverse groups of individuals, communities and organizations around the world for one common purpose: to celebrate and encourage giving. A team of influencers and founding partners joined forces and collaborated across sectors, offering expertise and working tirelessly to launch the first Giving Tuesday in 2012 and have continued to shape, grow and strengthen the movement every year since.
#GivingTuesday harnesses the potential of social media and the generosity of people around the world to bring about real change in the world; it provides a platform for them to encourage the donation of time, resources and talents to address local and global challenges. It also brings together the collective power of a unique blend of partners—nonprofits, civic organizations, businesses and corporations, as well as families and individuals—to encourage and amplify small acts of kindness.
As a global movement, #GivingTuesday unites countries around the world by sharing our capacity to care for and empower one another.
Yesterday, a Reuters article appeared online outing the fact that orphanages in developing countries are far more suspect than most would assume. I cannot speak to the global nature of the problem; however, I can confirm from personal experience that what is revealed by this article is true in Haiti.
Since 1996, I have been the head of The Haitian Project (THP), which funds and oversees a tuition-free, Catholic, co-ed, secondary boarding school called Louverture Cleary School outside of Port-au-Prince in Haiti. (THP also provides university scholarships to the graduates of Louverture Cleary School. 90% of our graduates have remained in Haiti where they have professional careers asteachers, doctors, accountants, nurses and even formal-sector businessowners.) During my more than two decades with THP, my family and I have lived in Haiti more than half the time.
In a nutshell, I can confirm each point made in the Reuters article from personal experience. Most, if not nearly all, children in orphanages have at least one living parent. (The one exception I know to this would be the Missionaries of Charity facilities.) Orphanages in Haiti are largely unlicensed. Children rotate in and out of the orphanages in a crippling cycle of familial abandonment and institutional neglect. The number of orphanages did increase dramatically after the earthquake. And, yes, the funding is staggering and ongoing.
On the point of multiplying after the earthquake, I saw with my own eyes children disappear from the neighborhood around our school in the weeks following the disaster. They were seduced out of parents’ hands by “start-up” orphanage opportunists with the promise of care, education and adoption.
To give credit where it is more than due, it was my wife, Christina, who made me face this heinous reality and react. Just weeks after the earthquake, having just settled our family back in Haiti, Christina prodded me like the old widow after the corrupt judge to have us do something as an institution. Personally, she had already started working with the neighborhood parents to gather back the children from our neighborhood.
Even more impressive to me than Christina’s courage in this matter is how she so easily seized on the solution—an early childhood development center staffed by a combination of full-time staff and Louverture Cleary students who volunteered as teachers and mentors. On top of this, she created an elementary school scholarship fund. She used this service, which solved the desire of neighborhood parents to find education for their kids and the practical need to occupy them while they (mostly mothers) worked in the market, to encourage parents to take their children back from the ad hoc orphanages that had popped up.
Beyond the Holy Spirit, I am confident that Christina’s vision to create an early childhood development center came from three sources: her training as an elementary school educator, her own motherhood, and the collegiality she had established with the women of our neighborhood—the very mothers whose children had been pied-piped away by the false promise of care and education.
Christina had the help of two excellent recent college grads serving in our Volunteer teacher program, Kristen (Zeiler) Brunson and Rebecca (Finney) Fernandes, who spent two years each helping her to develop what is now called the Koukouy (firefly) program. Together, they trained an exceptional Haitian staff of professionals and para-professionals to carry on the work. I am also proud that my daughter, Marianna, spent many hours teaching in this program before leaving Louverture Cleary and Haiti for college at fourteen.
On top of the wonderful outcome of keeping families together, the Koukouy program has enabled children who would have been lost to end up as college graduates instead. I am certain that the children that have come to Louverture Cleary from Christina’s program would have never made it into elementary school, let alone end up professionals working in Haiti. Not only does this mean that they avoided the abuse and pain reported by Reuters and documented by the Lumos Foundation, but that their children will never come close to it.
Citizens of all nations question how well their country’s social institutions and systems function, especially in an election year. But how often do we discuss the very existence of fundamental institutions?
In Haiti’s tumultuous history, the growth of its social institutions has been thwarted repeatedly, creating human suffering and leaving the nation vulnerable for all manner of attempts to alleviate that suffering. Haiti’s 2010 earthquake intensified this already existing problem to the point where Haiti was called a “Republic of NGOs.”
The Haitian Project Chooses a Different Path
The Haitian Project (THP) recognizes the importance of working with, and for the growth of, social institutions. The Catholic values of subsidiarity and solidarity guide its mission of education steeped in service. And, sometimes, life offers poignant reminders that THP has chosen the right path. This past September, Haitian Project News featured a story about how medical student and junior staff member Lochard Laguerre (LCS ‘14) fell ill with perforated appendicitis. Fortunately, he was able to receive excellent care from another LCS alumnus, Dr. Jean-Came-Emile Poulard (LCS ‘06). Read their story here.
The backside of this beautiful story is the struggle that exists for Haitian physicians to find work when Haiti is saturated with foreign medical missions. Jon Kennedy, former Director of the Office of External Affairs for THP and a Foreign Service graduate from Georgetown University, knows this problem well because he saw first-hand the challenges Louverture Cleary grads face in trying to find work after graduating from medical school.
Medical care provided by international doctors needs to be within a larger framework that supports Haiti’s medical system.... Strengthening local medical education, hiring Haitian doctors, and working to give local doctors incentives to stay in Haiti are small but essential ways to bring about a better future in Haiti.
THP’s community has a tremendous opportunity, in solidarity, to be a voice for the power of education to transform nations and support good institutions. Like the parable of the mustard seed, we hope the relatively small action of building The Louverture Cleary Schools Network will become a significant step towards stronger institutions in Haiti.
Scott LeGrand, MD, Chair of THP’s Board of Directors, explains:
My medical colleagues assume that if I go to Haiti it is to do medical work. Explaining the mission of THP creates an opportunity to talk about the competition that is created for employment when foreign doctors provide free services in Haiti, making it difficult for Haitian doctors to find work. People get this and begin to see things in a new light.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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!
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.