In November of 2014, 6 LKNB representatives were honored to be invited to visit Limonade, Haiti by Sonje Ayiti (Remember Haiti), a
Sonje Ayiti is a group of Haitian and international humanitarians who collaborate to uplift the Haitian community through education, economic development, and health promotion. We had been introduced to Sonje Ayiti through Jonathan Back, a long-time LKNB volunteer, and then oriented to their work by the Rev. Dick Daily, Sonje Ayiti’s International Director of Development, whose family has been ministering to Haiti for over 60 years.
This collaboration represents a departure for LKNB from our typical engagement. Rather than serving in the disaster zone near Port-au-Prince, we were called to do our 2nd wave recovery work in northern Haiti, where thousands of people escaping the earthquake have migrated, swelling an already over-burdened infrastructure in the Cap Haitien area.
This was also our first chance to deliver the “4th R” of our service, revitalization of communities. We visited several of Sonje Ayiti’s 27 programs, which all function on the philosophy of “koud-a-koud,” or shoulder-to-shoulder. This principle became the inspiration behind our new Neighbor to Neighbor program.
We were impressed with the many ways Sonje Ayiti gives their neighbors access to greater opportunities for self-sufficiency. We saw agricultural
Finally, we visited the Cima School in a small, rural town near Limonade. The residents of Cima are vibrant and resilient, and in the past 5 years they have taken in many children and families orphaned by the earthquake. The living conditions are rustic and the life expectancy is lower than average in Cima. Sonje Ayiti has helped them create their first school, which started out in a UNICEF tent. Later, Sonje Ayiti was able to build a three-classroom, open air school, with blackboards, benches for the children, and a solid metal roof.
We were so moved by the palpable importance of the school to members of the community. Some teachers walk 8 miles to and from school every day, for much less than what teachers are paid in the U.S. We learned that the teachers had nowhere to sit or place their personal and professional items during the day, so we designed a project to build the teachers chairs, desks, and shelving units for each classroom.
One of our intentions for our trip was to learn from Sonje Ayiti if there was a project we could support from a distance, according to their most pressing needs. We were so excited to learn that they wanted us to collaborate on a project to build a new, modern school in Cima, that would fulfill many of the needs of students and their families, such as a nutrient-rich meal every day, clean, safe water to drink, electricity, and modern sanitation facilities, in addition to spacious and fully-enclosed classrooms. Their enrollment is at approximately 150 students now, but the current school cannot accommodate that many. This year, there was no space for the 4th graders, so they had to return to learning in a tent.
To learn more about the powerful programs led by Sonje Ayiti, please visit their gorgeous and informative website.