June 15, 2013
The growth strategy for the Children’s Academy and Learning Center is to build up the school, class by class, until we arrive at a full K-12 school. In September of last year we began with our first preschool class of 25 wonderful 3 year olds. Now we’ve begun planning to introduce the 2nd preschool class for the fall of this year. While very exciting, this also presents challenges.
One of the challenges is caused by the fact that the Children’s Academy is not an ordinary Haitian school. The education is student-centered and loving, rather than marked by rote learning and corporal punishment – the traditional model in Haiti. It’s also explicitly interactive and engaged with the positive development of the community of which it is a part, something that is also rather unusual in Haiti.
Dealing with this effectively requires good communication with the community overall, though specifically with students’ parents. Here are some pictures of a meeting of all the parents whose children either currently go, or will be going, to the Children’s Academy. At this first meeting for new enrollees’ parents the school coordinators, Kerline and Alex – fixtures in the community at this point – hand out, explain, and talk with folks about an accord (based on the Children’s Academy brochure which you can view here) detailing the mission, vision, core values, philosophy, program goals and strategy of the school.
The accord also details parent responsibilities, including volunteering expectations. Parents of students at the Children’s Academy volunteer 4 hours each week throughout the school year. This year, their contribution included everything from planting in the garden, to widening the road in front of the school, to simply keeping the campus clean. Volunteerism is one important way that the Children’s Academy can encourage community members to invest in the development of their community, even if they don’t have the financial means to do so.
And we must say, this approach appears to be working. Though our plan was to add a class of 25 students each year, the demand was so strong after this first year that after careful consideration we’ve raised the class size to 30 so we can accommodate 60 instead of 50 students in the fall.
Thank you for your interest in and support for the Children’s Academy and Learning Center. We’re excited about what lies ahead!
June 7, 2013
After the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, there was much talk about the massive devastation and the unbelievable number of people who died. What was less commonly talked about was a major reason why the quake was so destructive: the prevalence of poor construction.
There are certainly many reasons for this: the state’s inability to enforce building codes, a lack of modern equipment (like cement mixers), people saving money by using too little cement, etc. But, a major reason is certainly a simple lack of masons schooled in earthquake- and hurricane-resistant building techniques. In Haiti the vast majority of masons – and tradespeople of all types – learn through apprenticeships under older, established masons. Unfortunately, few of these Bòs Mason continue their educations after they themselves become professionals. Thus, old-fashioned techniques are often repeated generation after generation.
Well, we’re pleased to say that as a result of a partnership with Extollo International, this cycle will no longer continue in Baocia, the community where the Children’s Academy and Learning Center is located. As seen in these images, local men – and women – are learning modern, earthquake- and hurricane-resistant building techniques. Since Baocia is also an area known for the many masons and tradespeople who live there, we are optimistic that this training will have a ripple effect capable of reaching across the country.
Haiti Partners is thrilled to be in partnership with Sherman and Avery and everyone at Extollo. To learn more about this partnership, click here. To view their excellent blog posts about this project, visit Extollo’s website here.
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Building Community from Chester, PA to Leogane, Haiti: Stetser Elementary and Henri Christophe Community School
May 30, 2013
Since 2011 Stetser Elementary School in Chester, PA has been a great partner to Henri Christophe Community School. They have taught about Haiti and Henri Christophe, and raised funds through a Pennies Drive and a Talent Show. In an effort to cultivate leadership, these efforts have been led by students themselves.
This year Stetser is at it again, this time planting vegetable gardens under a Share the Dream grant. From Stetser Principal, Janet Baldwin:
“We received some grant money two years ago to build two raised bed vegetable gardens so our children could learn about gardening and then we could use the fresh vegetables to serve with our lunch program. The City of Chester, Pennsylvania, where our school is located, is a high crime urban area with very little space for gardens so our children have never experienced growing their own food. Last year we were fortunate to be invited to the White House to assist First Lady Michelle Obama in planting the White House gardens. We came back with the desire to establish the Stetser Community Garden so we could grow more fresh foods for our children and their families and our community. We recently received more grant money to add 4 more raised beds. We are almost finished planting our new beds and will work to run our Stetser Community Garden during our Stetser Eco-School Summer Academy. When we harvest the vegetables and distribute them we will be asking for donations to be sent to Henri Christophe Community School so your children might be able to plant a garden at your school.”
Haiti Partners is very grateful to the students, staff and leadership at Stetser Elementary for their efforts to connect and build community with Henri Christophe Community School. We look forward to continuing to find creative ways to work, learn and build community together!
May 25, 2013
Last month the Kenbe La Foundation sent a 4-person team to Darbonne all the way from New Zealand for 19 days to lead construction on a 3-room building at Henri Christophe Community School. The building materials were sent in containers directly from New Zealand.
In preparation for the construction, Haiti Partners worked with the leadership at Henri Christophe to have a cement foundation built directly in front of the school. Once they arrived, the Kenbe La team worked tirelessly in the Haitian heat constructing the building on the foundation.
These new classrooms will provide more room for the school to function and for current students to thrive. It also opens up opportunities for growth which didn’t exist before, creating the hopeful possibility that the school can now provide a quality education to more students in the community.
Haiti Partners and Henri Christophe Community School would like to thank the Kenbe La Foundation for their engagement, commitment, and dedication to this project. Thank you!
May 20, 2013
Last week co-director John Engle flew to Denver, CO to participate in WorldBlu Live 2013. From the WorldBlu website:
WorldBlu LIVE 2013 is the world’s premier gathering on freedom in the workplace. It is designed for individuals and organizations who recognize the power of freedom and democracy as a leading tool for boosting the bottom-line, promoting innovation, attracting top talent and inspiring full engagement.
John was invited both to give a main-stage presentation and to demonstrate the Circles of Change program for participants. What he didn’t know in advance was that he had also been selected by WorldBlu to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at their Night of Honor event last Thursday for his accomplishments and commitment to democratic, freedom-centered practice. In cahoots with our friends at WorldBlu, and with a generous gift of time and talent from our friend and associate, Luke Renner, we created the video below which was aired at the awards ceremony.
What none of us anticipated was the generosity of the DaVita, WD-40 and Woohoo, Inc. companies. DaVita prepared in advance a giant check indicating their contribution of $10,000 as a part of the award. WD-40 CEO, Garry Ridge, quickly committed to matching it and long time friend, Alex Kjerulf, founder of Woohoo, Inc. committed an additional $5,000 to Haiti Partners work.
Haiti Partners is very grateful to WorldBlu for the amazing work they are doing to promote democracy and freedom in workplaces across the globe. We are so thankful to be a part of their inspiring network, which includes extraordinary companies like Davita, WD-40, Woohoo, Zappos, and many others.
And we are so grateful to John for all he does and continues to do each day to help all of us and those we work with to cultivate our potential and reach new heights.
Chapo ba (hats off to you), John!
*To learn more about how Haiti Partners integrates democratic practice in our work, please view the video below.
May 13, 2013
Change in Haiti is a daunting but exciting possibility when you work together. This was the topic during our recent Partners Retreat held in Vero Beach. A Haitian proverb says: Men anpil chay pa lou. “Many hands make the load lighter.”
On April 26-27, over 50 friends of Haiti Partners landed in Vero Beach from across the U.S., Canada, and Haiti to “Connect for Change.” Participants heard short, TED Talk-style presentations from Americans and Haitians. Everyone participated in open discussions. The connection of our social and spiritual lives addressed. There is a lot of collaboration ahead!
With activities on the beach, wonderful food, and great people, the Partners Retreat was informative and fun. Mark your calendars now for the 4th annual Partners Retreat to be held in Vero Beach on April 25-26, 2014. For additional information, contact us at 772-539-8521 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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April 25, 2013
If you’re familiar with our Organizations program, you know that the centerpiece of it is what we call Circles of Change. Circles of Change is an innovative participatory education program that encourages democratic development and is designed for use in organizations, schools, churches, the workplace, or anywhere a group needs to learn how to work better together. The two key methods used are Reflection Circles (based on Touchstones in the US) and Open Space Technology. Together, they create a Circle of Change: a group of 20-30 participants who meet weekly for 6 months to practice these democratic methods with two qualified Haitian trainers guiding them through the process.
In response to the many particular needs of those we work with, in the last few years we have begun to adapt the program. We have integrated the Haitian constitution into reading lists to support civic education, created the founding documents for a community governance organization, and led groups to identify community priorities and create projects to address them. In the future, we envision creating our own volumes of texts centered around important themes.
Toward this end, from April 11-13 we held a discussion text writing workshop for a number of our most advanced trainers. The workshop was led by our long-time friend and colleague, Dr. Steven Werlin. Steven led the group through the process of identifying the theme their text would focus on, creating questions to help participants engage with it, and finally writing the full text. The group was very engaged with participants writing texts on a variety of relevant subjects including: corporal punishment in the family; environmental protection; the relationship between work and friendship; corruption; etc.
Haiti Partners is grateful to work with this great team and we look forward to seeing where this newest path for the Organizations program leads!Posted in Circles of Change, Haiti Partners, Open Space, ORGANIZATIONS Program, Reflection Circles | No Comments | Email This Post | Print This Post
April 22, 2013
Last January, Haiti Partners began a Circles of Change group in partnership with the Power of Education Foundation school in Martisant, just outside of Port-au-Prince. The group meets each Saturday morning for an hour and a half and is made up of teachers from the Power of Education school, as well as six neighboring schools. The project goal is to both improve collaboration among school staff as well as to introduce participants to student-centered, participatory approaches to education and leadership development.
The group is going well, with regular attendance above what we were aiming for, and strong enthusiasm among participants. The group began January 26th and will continue through late July.
Haiti Partners is excited to be partnering with the Power of Education Foundation on this project and we look forward to seeing the group develop in the coming months!
To learn more about the Circles of Change program, click here.
Posted in Circles of Change, Haiti Partners, Open Space, ORGANIZATIONS Program, Reflection Circles | No Comments | Email This Post | Print This Post
April 18, 2013
In a couple previous blog posts (#1, #2), I described an inspiring young girl, Morgan Fisher, who at the tender age of 11 raised funds for our partner, Anonsiyasyon Community School through selling hand-made Valentine’s Day greeting cards and teddy bears, as well as soliciting donations from friends and family.
Well, she didn’t stop there. Together with her sister Madison, the Fisher sisters did it again, raising funds for the school through selling teddy bears both this year and last. This year alone the two raised over $700 for Anonsiyasyon!
Here’s a note from their mom, Sheri, describing what they did:
“…Morgan and Madison just raised another $760 for the Annonciation school! They were invited to sell teddy bears (at Christ Church), which were collected to give to children entering DCFS. The bears were donated by our church rummage department this year, so all of the proceeds were profit, and all of the bears will go to needy children. It was an amazing day of service, and we are thrilled to be able to continue to help the school rebuild.”
On behalf of the kids at Anonsiyasyon Community School, Haiti Partners would like to extend our great appreciation to Morgan and Madison, the whole Fisher family, as well as Christ Church in Winnetka, IL. The work you all have done for the students at Anonsiyasyon is truly amazing. Thank you!
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April 15, 2013
Last Wednesday, April 10th, Haiti Partners convened all of its school leadership teams at a hotel meeting space in Port-au-Prince. This included a total of 19 people: all six partner schools and the Children’s Academy. These meetings are held three times each year, and are a part of our ongoing efforts to improve our work together.
The topics – which were generated by the group – included exciting announcements like Anonsiyasyon Community School opening a preschool section next year and Henri Christophe nearing completion of a new three-classroom building. They also included honest critiques of how we need to improve our work like better communicating activities that aren’t organized by HP and tightening up and becoming more systematic about our financial accounting and reporting. (See meeting notes here.)
Having been a part of this group since we started the partner school model in 2009, something that I found especially pleasing at this meeting is how well the group has learned to work together. When we began, everyone waited for HP to create the agenda and take responsibility for the meetings. Many participants – especially the women in the group – either didn’t speak at all or when they did you could barely hear them. By contrast, other participants – almost invariably men – would unself-consciously dominate the meetings.
Nowadays, the group creates the agenda and manages the meetings collaboratively. Participation is fairly distributed and based on the relative importance of what is being said, not who is saying it. Finally, there is a real sense of mutual respect and appreciation among the group.
A central goal in all of Haiti Partners’ work is to change the paradigm of leadership in Haiti from the traditional command and control model based on subordination, humiliation, and violence, to a collaborative, invitational, democratic model which encourages all participants to explore and express their unique potential. We are thrilled to see such great progress toward this goal with this core group of Schools Program colleagues.
Posted in Annonciation Community School, Bèl Platon Community School, Cabois Community School, Cité Soleil Community School, Haiti Partners, Henri Christophe Community School, IMN Community School, Partner Schools, SCHOOLS Program | No Comments | Email This Post | Print This Post
April 9, 2013
Haiti Partners is honored to be on the 2013 WorldBlu List of Most Democratic Workplaces. We draw inspiration from WorldBlu Founder and CEO, Traci Fenton and her team. We share their vision that for the world to be a better place, there needs to be well functioning democratic societies that are able to solve new problems and seize new opportunities.
We believe that there is truth in the common analysis that many of the global problems we’re facing are as a result of political crisis. We see in a country like the US, with over two centuries of experience in democracy that people across party lines are unable to work together effectively for the common good. In places newer to democracy like Haiti, the polarization between sides is even greater.
Haiti Partners joins with others in the WorldBlu network believing that establishing democratic practices in the work place where the average person spends significant time is not only key to a more productive and creative workforce, but that it’s also key to our societies–our countries–becoming more effective at democracy and working together for the common good.
Haiti Partners strives to practice all ten of the principles and we love the evaluation tool that WorldBlu has developed that allows our members of staff to evaluate our organization in general and our leadership in particular. To learn more about democratic workplace principles click here.
Traci from WorldBlu (see photo below) had this to say after her visit with Haiti Partners.
My co-workers and I witnessed first-hand the amazing work of Haiti Partners in helping leaders and educators develop skills in freedom centered leadership and democratic decision-making. We visited in December 2011 and did a seminar with 40 grassroots and organizational Haitian leaders. Haiti Partners co-founder, John Engle, an American who worked in business before he moved to Haiti in 1991, will speak at WorldBlu Live about the challenges in helping an extremely top-down and even dictatorial culture to rethink their approach and opt for more bottom up.
(Traci with Henri Christophe students)
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April 4, 2013
As a result of some very fortuitous connections, Haiti Partners was grateful to receive Haiti Clinic at the Children’s Academy from March 22nd to 24th. They came with 11 volunteer doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other medical professionals. This remarkable group set up shop just outside the school and served over 650 people from the surrounding area with a range of issues including skin infections, arthritis, poor vision, intestinal worms, and other afflictions.
In addition to job creation and education, health care has been a central priority for the community in Baocia expressed repeatedly in our many open meetings. We are thrilled to have connected with Haiti Clinic for this opportunity and hope to continue this partnership into the future!
To read Haiti Clinic’s full post about this visit, click here.Posted in Children's Academy, Haiti Partners, SCHOOLS Program | No Comments | Email This Post | Print This Post
March 29, 2013
We’re saddened to hear of the death of one our dear friends and partners, Allan Klotsche, this past Thursday. It would be hard in this brief space to recount everything that he’s meant to us. His decades of corporate and non-profit experience were an invaluable resource. But even more than that, his wisdom, compassion, and his steady, gentle presence are irreplaceable. He was a pillar of the Vero Beach community, and an incredible partner in helping Haitians change Haiti.
Allan was a key adviser to John and Kent as they started Haiti Partners in 2008-2009. After the earthquake in 2010, he connected us with Briggs & Stratton, making it possible for us to bring 240 of their generators to Haiti, providing power to schools, clinics, and other key facilities during the relief and recovery operations. Along with his wife Mary, he was a strong supporter of the WOZO Youth Choir, and helped provide music and arts education training to teachers at our partner schools. Over the last few years, he visited Haiti numerous times, and was always a welcome presence for our Haitian friends and colleagues.
There’s so much more that could be said (see below for an obituary that remembers more of his selfless life). For now, Allan, from all of us Haiti Partners, you’ll be deeply missed. Be at peace knowing that you’ve impacted so many lives for the better. We know that today you have heard “Well done, good and faithful servant”.
Allan John Klotsche, Sr.
Allan John Klotsche Sr., 73, of Vero Beach, FL, entered into eternal life on March 28, 2013. Allan was born on November 8, 1939 to parents, Dr. J. Martin & Roberta (Roberts) Klotsche.
Allan began his career as an independent insurance agent, which eventually led to the formation of Gollusch, Klotsche & Hiller, a Milwaukee-based agency which he later sold to Willis Corroon. Allan continued his career with Willis Corroon as the director of their Milwaukee operations, and later served as president and chief executive officer of Willis Corroon Minnesota.
Beyond work, Allan was passionate about giving back to others. While living in Milwaukee, Allan was very involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS), where he served on their board and as chairman. Upon retirement and his move to Vero Beach in 1993, Allan continued his devotion to serving others. He was surprised there was no local BBBS chapter, and decided to start one. Allan’s special involvement in the lives of his “Little Brothers” led to the adoption of his son Brandon Phillips Klotsche, as well as weekly mentoring with Brantavius Valliere. Allan also was a faithful servant of Our Savior Lutheran Church and became an ordained Deacon in 2009. After becoming ordained, Allan actively served on the ELCA Florida-Bahamas Synod Council. Through his involvement in the community, Allan also became involved in Haiti Partners, a non-profit focused on helping Haitians change Haiti through education.
Allan is survived by his loving children; son, Allan John (Mary) Klotsche Jr. of Milwaukee, WI, daughter, Wendy (Kevin) Orthober of Cedarburg, WI, son, Brandon Phillips Klotsche of Vero Beach; cherished grandchildren, Allan John Klotsche III, Christopher Klotsche, Kaitlyn Kohler, Kristina Orthober and Jacob Orthober; loving brothers, John Chester Klotsche of Santa Barbara, CA, Charles and Martin Klotsche of Palm Beach, FL.
Memorial services will be held at Our Savior Lutheran Church, 1439 6th Avenue, Vero Beach, FL, April 2, 2013 at 4:30 pm, with reception to follow in the church Fellowship Hall. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to Big Brothers Big Sisters – St. Lucie County, Inc.
For more information on condolences and services, click herePosted in Haiti Partners | No Comments | Email This Post | Print This Post
Earlier this month Haiti Partners had a special treat. Through our close partnership with Yunus Social Business we were invited to host the actor/writer/producer Ben Stiller for a couple hours during one of his visits to Haiti. Mr. Stiller co-founded Artists for Haiti which, among other things, supports the development of social business in Haiti. He wanted to visit the future site of the HAJICA poultry business which, in partnership with YSB and four of our partner schools, will be built this year.
The visit went very well. Mr. Stiller arrived in a helicopter directly to the field next to Henri Christophe Community School. I can tell you, this was quite a treat for the neighborhood kids who had come from miles around to see it! We spent about an hour talking with key colleagues about the poultry business and the four partner schools it will fund. We then visited the nearby site where the poultry business is to be located. Finally, we returned where Maestro Alex and the WOZO Choir sang for our visitors. As always, Alex and the choir got the whole neighborhood on their feet!
Haiti Partners is very grateful to Mr. Stiller and Artists for Haiti for visiting this work and for engaging in Haiti. We look forward to a hopeful future visit once HAJICA has been built and is up and running!
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March 25, 2013
Social Entrepreneur Carlos Miranda Levy writes about his experience of meeting a child with great potential upon his recent visit to the Children’s Academy.
Thank you for your visit Carlos and we look forward to staying in touch!
It was a bright and shiny day in the Caribbean and Ayesha commented on the beautiful clouds on the way up to the mountains just outside Port-au-Prince as our bodies took a pounding — or a rough shiatsu massage if you prefer — as John and his Haiti Partners crew brought us to the Children Academy for our Civil Dialogue program of peer conversations among unlikely equals. The landscape and the view could not be more impressive for the two young Middle East women joining us from Iran and the United Arab Emirates as we looked down the endless cement jungle of Port-au-Prince’s 4 million inhabitants disappeared into the Sea while surrounded by a tapestry of green trees. But not even I, coming from neighbouring Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic was prepared for the unexpected discovery yet to make this memorable day even more special.
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