A people’s movement in Haiti has held manifestations for the past two weeks. They are fighting to rid their government of corruption and to find justice for the billions of dollars stolen by politicians here. The Haitian government was supposed to use that money for infrastructure projects. Google #kotkobpetrocaribe to learn more. The government finally addressed the people this past weekend with a list of changes, including a 30% drop in politician’s benefits. The protests have stopped and life seems to be back to normal. But its not normal.
For 12 days no one worked. No one made money to put food on their table. Most Haitians I have talked to support the movement to rid the government of corruption. This latest grouping of protests has had a huge impact on the economy, which will last for a long time. Karnival in most cities have been canceled. Jacmel is still having Karnival but its for locals only. Every hotel is virtually empty, when usually they would be booked. Jacmel’s economy is dependent on Karnival but Jacmel is now a ghost town.
We know this is a crisis and we want to help. We are fundraising to pay for all the student tuition for the next two months. Each month students pay $6.5 for their class. It may not seem like a lot but it can mean a family goes without something as important as food and water. We want them to keep their money for their families. In total it is $988 for 76 students. We also want to create immediate opportunities to work for local trade skills workers and small businesses. We need chairs, 2 tables, shelving and fabric for class. So every dollar goes to paying a professor at JE or it goes to local businesses. This is important to create jobs and learning opportunities so people feel hopeful and feel pride in their work.
Please click the donate button and give even $6.5 for a student. Give $150 and we can build a new table for our growing student population.
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
Patrick Soper, Recipient of the Projects for Peace
Oliver Bentley (left) and team, Beneficiaries of the Trustee Leadership Program
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.
Science and art have too long been separated. Even the word scientist was inspired by the word artist. Many countries with greater resources than Haiti have realised this and Universities are now partnering the two subjects. In 2015 over 25 University presidents penned letters to Obama stating the importance of combining science and the arts. It just makes sense. Both are creative fields with innovators looking at new ways of thinking and making. With the advent of the 3D printer and realised machines, artists have a direct connection to creating with digital technology. Now it is important to find the relevancy of these mediums and what they have to offer the world of art. Art is also a great way for students to explore and understand new technologies.
So why should JE’s students deserve any less than what first world students are getting? JE is has most of the resources to create this opportunity and with a little help from our new partners, HTEC, we have distributed applications at six local schools. The Robo Klub is the most competitive program we have offered. Out of 150 applications distributed we will choose only 12 students to participate in the program! The Klub will start October 7th and continue for three months. The students will be learning English, computer competency, coding with Scratch and principles of movement. In January the students will go to Port au Prince for a national competition and conference!
This is just the beginning! We have a lot more arts/tech classes in development. If you would like to support the students and teachers click the donation button above.
It has been an exciting few months. We are getting ready for a new session of classes and with a couple new partnerships we are able to offer a broader range of classes for our students. We have created two new partnerships that we are very happy to announce.
Haiti Dansco is a local danse school that focuses on Afro-Haitian culture and uses a wide variety of styles to share this culture with the world. We provide English classes for their students, which opens up more opportunity for the students to travel and share their vision. They provide our students with dance classes. The current class is contemporary African dance. We chose this partnership not only only our common goals but also because of the standards their students uphold. They match the forward thinking approach our students have as well.
HTEC Group is a local tech club in Jacmel. Their goal is to develop digital skill sets to open a new job market in Haiti. We are working together to offer classes in basic computer skills, learning programs, and next year we will open programming courses for HTML. If you are interested in joining us in this digital journey private message us! We have classes for youth and adults.
For the past 7 years, Jakmel Ekspresyon has been a Community Arts Center. It has been a space for artists to glean new skills or practice old ones through classes. It has provided resources for graduates so they can create their own job. The building and equipment has been used by many local organizations to hold classes, have meetings, and or create activities for the larger community of Jacmel. As the Center has grown our network of local volunteers has grown, so has our list of classes. The artists are gaining more skills based experience. The community of students, faculty and administration are driven forward-thinking intellectuals and each of them is always seeking more knowledge.
Our classes have traditionally included skills, techniques and professional development. What the Center lacks is critical thinking classes and practices. A community center provides resources for a community and its activities. A school teaches students how to approach critical thinking and has a curriculum to achieve that pathway. The academic classes that the community is asking for will make Jakmel Ekspresyon a local arts academy. Jakmel Ekspresyon is advancing two initiatives to meet our new goal. First, we are currently seeking volunteers to expand the options for art history, philosophy and critical theory. Second, over the next year we will be developing themes for the classes to tackle issues such as health, discrimination and environmental justice. Some of these classes will include STEM/STEAM education practices such as learning code programming or testing for water pollution.
It is now our intention to develop this humble little art center into an arts academy to educate young artists and help to nurture and inspire the new generation of artists in Jacmel, Haiti. You can be involved in the next step of our journey! Start a conversation with us, introduce us to people we should know and we always take in-kind and fiscal donations. Email us at email@example.com or visit our donate page to see our wish list.