By Hiske Jones
School looked diff erent for many children this year. Amid a pandemic that forced school closures around the world and parents and educators adapting to make sure students continued to learn, one thing remained clear: a quality education is essential to a child’s wellbeing and success in life.
The Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus’ Haiti Outreach Program is making sure that children in the remote village of Boucan-Carré in central Haiti receive an education.
“Our mission is to break the cycles of poverty in Haiti, focusing on mind (education), body (health care), and spirit (faith),” said Matt Webster, who took on the outreach program’s leadership role in January.
The program recently kicked off its annual student sponsorship campaign with an ambitious goal of raising $75,000.
All the funds raised through the campaign go directly to Haiti to support 1,200 preschool and elementary students and 300 middle and high school students with tuition and daily meals as well as salaries for teachers and staff . Additional donations go toward student uniforms, national test fees for ninth and 12th graders, and basic teaching supplies.
“With COVID-19, we are still not at full capacity at the cathedral, and not able to reach as many people in person,” Mr. Webster said. “So the program is placing emphasis on a digital campaign.”
He pointed out that the outreach program’s website has been redesigned to make online donations easier. Another focus for the website is to highlight the impact donations have had.
One shining success is the story of Julio Geffrard, whose life has come full circle in Boucan-Carré. The student sponsorship allowed him to finish high school and he is now teaching English at the same school, while finishing law school.
“The program has come a long way in its 22 years,” Mr. Webster said. “With the generous support of donors and volunteers, we hope to meet or exceed this year’s student sponsorship goal and extend our reach to more students and residents of beautiful Boucan-Carré.”