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Haiti: In Search of Another Image

"Ke Kontan"

Canaán, located western of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, is a neighborhood that was started out of necessity following the devastating earthquake in 2010, which shook the island and left untold human and material losses. "This was an area where they planted cotton, but after the earthquake it became one of the largest settlements in Port-au-Prince. At some point it was estimated that around 7,000 people lived here, but today the total number of inhabitants is unknown, as the area is not only home to those who lost everything following the earthquake, but also migrants from the interior of the country who are seeking a better life.  As a neighborhood, Canaán lacks many basic utilities, such as water and electricity, but there is a spirit and desire among its people to overcome, to continue working hard. Canaan is the Promised Land; we want it to be a land of hope"

Also located in Canaán is the Fe y Alegría Basic Primary Community School, which was founded to provide quality education to hundreds of children in the area who otherwise would not have access to education. As with the other 17 schools that make up the Fe y Alegría network in Haiti, the Fe y Alegría school in Canaán is dedicated to fulfilling the right of all local children and youth to access quality and inclusive education.

Foi et Joie Haiti, Fe y Alegría Haiti in French, was founded in 2006 and since its inception has worked to improve the quality of public education in rural sectors of the country. Among its 17 schools, Foi et Joie Haiti provides formal education in primary and secondary settings, as well as technical education, serving over 5,000 girls, boys, youth and adults.

In addition to the school in Canaán, Foi et Joie has schools in Bala and Cazeau; in the northeast schools are located in Dilaire, Bassin Grand, Chemin, Welsh, Carice and Bedou. In the northwest, Foi et Joie works in places such as Fond, Ramadou, Gros Sable, Colette, Coton, Acadien and Diondio. Finally, in the southwest part of the country Foi et Joie operates schools in La Montagne and Arreguy. Foi et Joie’s sole technical school offers courses in: hospitality, gastronomy, plumbing, welding, electricity and auto-mechanics, among other courses. All of this is done through the dedication and support of just 306 teachers, administrators and auxiliary staff.

THE PROTAGONISTS

Dinah Sánchez

Dinah Sánchez

 
Benita Pierro

Benita Pierro

 

Dinah Sánchez, a member of the Amico Amistad Misionera en Cristo Obrero religious community is the Director of the Fe y Alegría Basic Primary Community School in Canaán, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. While she was born in Puerto Rico, her heart and life are in Haiti, where she arrived as a missionary six years ago. Sister Dinah is the driving force behind a wonderful teams made up of nuns, teachers, cooks, auxiliaries, fathers and mothers who make up the great strength of the school. Each and every day one of them express their mission and commitment to Fe y Alegría through the love and accompaniment they give to each student. “Our mission is to provide for the children so that they are well, feel happy, calm, nourished … we want our school to be a welcoming and safe space.”

“We are convinced that the only from the heart will we be able to educate. That is our educational proposal, a proposal where children feel loved, understood, cared for. It is from that starting point that we set out to teach everything in the academic and instrumental elements. We believe that this is a country of opportunities and our mission is to give our students the desire and tools to face this opportunities, we want their joy Ke Kontan to translate into becoming protagonists of a different Haiti” 

 

Benita Pierrot, arrived at Foi et Joie’s technical school in 2011, where she is currently part of the gastronomy course. She currently provides food service for students and the office staff. Benita is without a doubt a very industrious, enterprising woman, who clearly enjoys what she does and enjoys the affection and appreciation of all those she encounters. To reach this point in her life was a fundamental goal for Benita: “I would like to tell every young person who is currently out of school or doing nothing to come to Fe y Alegría and learn a trade or skill that will help them and their families to improve their quality of life.”

The Fe y Alegría Technical Training School offers two focuses—Technical Training and Employability—which allows its students to get a job or develop their own micro business. As a result, Foi et Joie is responding in a practical way to the reality of Haiti, where informal work is widespread. “With these courses and skills, we are working to build the Haiti of tomorrow.”