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The Haitian Initiative starts Back to School Campaign after COVID and Civil Unrest derail school attendance in Haiti

Tony and H.I. Soccer Team at 2013 USA Cup

Like everyone else in 2010, Tony Sanneh had Haiti on his mind following the devastating 7.0 earthquake that reduced much of Port-au-Prince to rubble. Shortly after, the Haitian Initiative (H.I.) was started as a collaborative effort to support more than 300 children in Cité Soleil, Haiti. For three hours every day, these children come to the H.I. complex for English classes, soccer training, and a meal–which is often the only meal they receive all day. 

After the spectacle of the 2010 earthquake wore off, much of the world forgot about Haiti. But, the situation in the country has deteriorated significantly as economic and political unrest are exacerbated by the pandemic. Luckily, with the help of the JBF Worldwide, the H.I. was able to provide 350 children in Haiti with emergency food relief. While the children of the H.I. are being fed, many are still lacking access to quality education. In March the Haitian government, fearing a COVID outbreak, shutdown schools. Schools officially reopened in August, but many obstacles have prevented students from returning including teachers refusing to return to the classroom over back pay and unsafe working conditions. With inflation increasing 23% annually, the ability of parents to pay their children’s school fees has decreased dramatically. Facing increased school fees and unsafe conditions, most kids in Haiti have not been to school for over six months. A devastating blow given that clashes between police and protesters as well as local gang violence led to a previous nationwide school shutdown (meaning that some kids in Cité Soleil will miss the entire 2019-2020 school year). The destabilizing effect of all these events has cause many children enrolled in our program to be turned away from school because their school fees cannot be paid.

As a response to the schooling crisis in Cité Soleil, The Sanneh Foundation launched the “Back to School Campaign.” The campaign aims to increase sponsorship and donations so that we can get the children in the Haitian Initiative program back to school. The fundraiser will help provide each child with access to education, soccer coaching, and a meal after soccer practice. We are asking our supporters to join our campaign at: haitian-initiative.causevox.com 

Meet the People of the Haitian Initiative

I am 9 years old, I’m living in [Cité ] Soleil. The name of my school is Alpha omega. I’m in third grade. Sometimes I go home with the food that H.I. gave me and sometimes I sleep with the food [in] my bed because I don’t know if I’m gonna find something to eat [at] home in the morning. I like to play with the kids and if I came to H.I. too, it’s because I know I can find some food to eat ’cause very often I sleep without eating anything when I’m at home. I’m so glad to be in H.I. Thank you everyone.

-Wouselene

I am 55 years old. I have 3 daughters and I have one son. Before I used to work at MSF and MINUSTAH and now I’m working for H.I. as a Coach. Matter [of] fact it’s been 5 years since I started working at H.I. I am a very cool person [but] I don’t like to talk a lot. The H.I. is very useful in our community because it helps us [with] the kids. The coaches [and] basically the H.I. are the only resources in our community and I am so proud [of] being an employee.

Renald

*Quotes are provided to us by our translator stationed in Cité Soleil, Haiti.

Join our campaign and help us get our kids back to school: haitian-initiative.causevox.com