This past Fall has been an amazing moment to highlight all of the hard work put in by former students and current students. Even though the growth and system we have built feels natural and right, it seems to be an innovative system people are excited to learn about.
90% of our classes are built by our Haitian staff and Core Membership. They define the classes needed and go find local talent to teach the classes. As the Director, I only develop classes when they are requested or after we have had numerous discussions about how a new class will benefit the community. There has been amazing innovation in the classroom fueled by this ground up participation, that has led to international partnerships and some new potential funding.
It really shows that when given the opportunity and resources, the Haitian community will create the innovation Jacmel needs. It will shows that when these innovative classes are there, the students will come. There is truly no one better to define the needs of the community except the community itself!
Another magical moment that happens is when the current students see the former students creating impact and change in their own community. The students follow by example and create workshops for other youth in Jacmel. Sometimes when we dont have the resources, like a glossary of coding terms, the students go and find those resources. It is a valuable experience for them. Each time they try and gain more valuable experience, the more prepared they will be for their future careers and civic activities in their communities!
The staff are so impressed with this new structure that we are building a more formal structure that elevates students into administrative and leadership positions. This way we will always find our relevance in the community, straight from the community.
In the past two years our programming and popularity has been growing. We have been leveraging the talent of local Haitians to create and teach classes. This has helped us put science, technology and art together to create unique courses unavailable in Jacmel.
With more students registering for classes than ever before, we are running out of space. Other people and organizations are excited to partner with us because of this success as well. New partnerships will increase the variety of programming we can offer the Jacmel community, but again we just don’t have the space. Each building we have had in the past were originally meant to be residential homes with large rooms. The room sizes limit the number of students we can enroll. We currently only have 3 teaching spaces. Each space is booked with classes. This is preventing us from developing advanced classes.
We have found a new unique building in the center of town that will allow us to grow into a school. It is a school built in the 1950’s and ran until the earthquake of 2010. It has a fair bit of renovation needs and some earthquake damage. So it has a large price tag on it for renovations to make it a functioning building. If we succeed in negotiating a fair rent and find funding to repair the building, we will be able to stabilize our facilities for sewing and computer labs. It has double the teaching spaces and we will be able to offer advanced classes. We will also have the room to start a solar academy and coding bootcamp, which are in development now with our partners. The classroom sizes are bigger and we will be able to enroll 20 to 25 students per class in comparison to the 15 student limit we have now. This will increase our enrollment from 180 to 480 students! Our partners also have more equipment donations for us, such as a full PC laptop lab and professional sewing lab.
This building is critical to our development as an alternative educational resource for the Jacmel community. We will need to raise a minimum of $50,000 to secure and restore the building. This is more than we have ever raised before. But we have already raised half that money and we need your help to raise the other half. It is a tall order but we are determined to reach our goal and make a dream come true. Click here to download a description of the project LDS Promo
On May 15th, the subsidies that keep gas prices lower will be stopped. This is in response to a request from the World Bank. The Haiti government will also raise prices on electricity. All of these changes are meant to decrease the deficit of Haitian national budget. There are so many issues in this development that we would have to refer to a scholar that studies the subject. On the ground, in the cities, neighborhoods and rural towns, this affects everyone’s life and ability to achieve success.
As we said in our previous post, consistency of electrical infrastructure is poor. We receive only 8 hours of energy every other day. That means we either have inverters and batteries, run a generator or go without electricity. Many businesses, personal homes and organizations rely on a generator for their daily lives. In the past when our invertor system has broken down, JE used our stinky and loud generator everyday. It costs us $15 dollars to run our generator for two days, at 6 hours per day. That means we have paid, $45 every week to power our organization and run classes. We pay our faculty $50 a month per class. So we could use that money to pay four faculty instead of buying gas. $45 may not sound like much but this is not America and the average daily wage is $2.50. Even the growing middle class will suffer.
Help us create sustainable infrastructure in Jacmel. We can’t take care of all of Haiti or even all of Jacmel but we can make a big difference for a lot of people in Jacmel. Cause when gas prices go up, most all prices go up!
Last September we visited a school in partnership with SevMoFlo, a non-profit in Miami. We provided logistics support to deliver school supplies to the students of Ecole St. Thomas Episcopale D’Haiti in a zone called Kafou Pengwen. When we arrived we found that we had many connections and friends in common. Our former screen printing student is giving art classes there, one professor was a part of a local partner organization and had already heard about our work in town regarding elevating technology. We found in ourselves an enduring resolve to continue to support this school.
Now we hope that we can help Ecole St. Thomas again! If we pass our fundraising goals to ship solar panels to Haiti we want to donate solar panels to this school. It’s not just about the solar panels. Let me explain how special this school is and what reality they have to deal with just to provide an education.
Ecole St. Thomas was built by the local community, because there was no place for the kids to go. They raised the money to build the school, they found teachers to teach the classes but that is all. They only have two rooms for near 300 students. Half those students come in the morning and half come in the afternoon. It is overwhelming. They have no electrical infrastructure at all. They teach by the daylight. This school is in a remote location in the mountains and is solely supported by a poor community that wants a better future for their kids.
The solar project only provides solar panels. We are importing $50,000 in panels! But each organization or business in the program has to find the funds to buy the batteries, inverter and electrical wires. Ecole St. Thomas does not have the support network to raise these funds. If we can pass our goal, Jakmel Ekspresyon wants to continue to support this remote school and buy the additional system they will need for the solar panels.
Help us by sharing our story. Let your friends know that together we can create a more sustainable future for some bright young Haitians that deserve the chance.
Click on the Donate link above to give a donation.
After five weeks of coding theory and practice the youth in Robo Klub got to have some real fun last Saturday! Lionel Pierre, the HTML teacher, brought in some electronic sound equipment. So the morning was filled with laughter and music. It was a magical space to be in. In the afternoon we learned about electricity and the fundamentals of a circuit. Then we soldered together a simple circuit with a watch battery, 330 Ohm resistor, led light and a vibration motor.
It took a minute for everyone to understand that the negative does not come out of the other side of your on/off toggle switch. And it was great to see everyone’s face as soon as they had a working circuit. I could hear the face before I saw it, because it was always proceeded by a very enthusiastic, “SUE SUE SUE!”
Saturday is one of my favorite days at JE! -Sue Frame, Director
We are excited to announce some amazing partnerships that have allowed us to build a pretty amazing summer program. We have partnered with students from Bard College and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. These students are being funded by grants at the Universities to come and give high level digital classes at Jakmel Ekspresyon.
Oliver Bentley has built a Social Mapping class with the support of the Trustee Leader Program at Bard College. He has signed up three amazing Bard students to teach three sessions in the Social Mapping class. The sections will be “how to use data and history of mapping”, “defining and collecting data”, “mapping data and creating infographics”. One of the reasons we are really excited about this project is that, currently, this skill set is focused in the international humanitarian sector. Most of the data cannot be searched by local Haitian organizations that could benefit from it. By giving this skill to local University students they will have more opportunity to find a job and help local organizations.
Patrick Soper has received a Projects for Peace grant and will represent the School of the Art Institute as he delivers a class in professional digital music editing. Patrick has a wide variety of skills including music, code programming, digital fabrication and has received awards for his music. The class will teach students how to use Ableton, which is an industry standard digital editing program. The grant will help us build a recording studio and will allow Patrick to teach professionalism and industry networking through the internet.