Little brother Ken has been back to Haiti several times since he served his mission there back in the ’80s. Not vacations. It may be in the Carribean, but you don’t go to Haiti to vacation. You go to help. Or at least try.
But how? Everywhere you look, Ken explained, there are crying needs. It’s almost overwhelming. In the words of Coldplay, it’s like “trying to empty out the ocean with a spoon.”
The focus of his recent trips has been an orphanage in Saint-Marc operated by a husband and wife team, Fritzner and Carole Morlant. Helping to build and equip it. Haiti’s got a huge orphan problem. Staggering, really. Nearly half a million kids without parents. Over the years, the Morlants have been taking in kids, one at a time. They now have 22 living with them. More come during the day to learn what they can at classrooms they’ve built.
A few months ago, Ken got the idea that what needed to happen is that those orphans at the Morlants needed to learn English. How, he wasn’t sure. He started looking for curriculum sources. There’s not much in the way of Haitian-creole-to-English material out there.
His search led him to the founders of ILP, an organization based up the road in Orem that sends college students to foreign lands to teach kids English for a semester at a time. He was hoping to score some curriculum material he could use. They set up a meeting at our office. During the meeting, Ken piped in Fritzner via Skype, who gave them the tour via webcam. The ILP team’s interest went beyond providing curriculum. They were curious about the possibility of setting up a program there.
Flash forward a month or two, and Ken meets the ILP guys in Haiti, introduces them to Fritzner, Carole and their 22 kids. A lot doesn’t go well during the trip, and Ken suspects that the ILP guys may see too many obstacles to setting up a program there. But a couple of months later, miraculously, they tell Ken they have elected to go forward with the Haitian program at the orphanage. The first group will be arriving this summer.
To take full advantage of the group of teachers that will be arriving, the orphanage needs more classrooms. That way, they could open up the orphanage to something like 80 kids. Ken and I kick around the idea of a crowdfunding campaign with a video. Are there others who would be interested in and in a position to help? Maybe. I would be a terrible liability on the ground in Haiti, but a video – now that’s something I could do.
I interview Ken over lunch, trying to get a handle on the content for the script. What’s the big deal with English? Ken shares with me his big idea. A dream, really. But quite the dream! He doesn’t merely want the orphans to learn English, he wants them to eventually receive a full-blown education in English. If these orphans could become proficient enough in English with a well-rounded education, it would open up employment opportunities that could finally break the extreme poverty cycle that these children are mired in.
Ken envisions that Haiti could eventually become the Western hemisphere’s answer to India, with its extensive customer service operations offered to companies world-wide, but with the advantage that Haiti is in the same time zone as many of the major population centers of the United States (India is about 12 hours ahead). A lot would have to fall into place to make this possible, of course. But a lot has already fallen into place. Miracles happen. Thanks to dreamers who dream.
So a couple days after Christmas, we shot the video. Then I spent a good chunk of the break between the holidays editing the video together. We posted it officially today. We hope it strikes a chord with other dreamers who like to dream as well. Any amount helps. In Haiti, $3 can go a long way.
Dream with us?