The Haiti Plunge serves a population of 40,000 living in the nine partner villages which spans a 25-mile radius. By focusing on sustainable development, we can help empower the Haitian people to take charge of their own future and their country.
The people farm inherited patches of land passed down through generations. The land is overworked, clean water supply extremely limited and erosion is a constant problem. 1% of the land is washed away annually. Reforestation through education was started 15 years ago, and great strides have been made in planting trees and vegetation for erosion control.
Sustainable development requires an education for both cultures. We need to provide the Haitian people with the tools and information they need, being careful not to advance beyond what they can manage at any given point. This is why we have begun to teach the teachers. In 2013, we began to put technology—computers and Internet access—in the teachers' hands so that they could further their own learning through Khan Academy, an online educational resource.
Education of the next generation is critical to Haiti's future. More than 600 children attend primary schools in the villages we serve. Children must walk two to three miles each way to attend school. Since most children eat only once a day, this is difficult task but people in the area are committed to having their children in school if they can afford the luxury.
The Haiti Plunge, through its child sponsorship program, sends children to school and subsidizes the school in order to minimize the tuition for parents. The monthly tuition for each child is approximately $5.00 US. This is a considerable sacrifice for a family that makes less than $450 US annually. The average family in Haiti is eight people. Sending more than two children at a time to school is impossible, so parents typically have their children alternate school years. It takes many years on this system to educate children.
Because there is no secondary school in the mountains, students walk six to eight miles to the city of Cabaret, which is twice as expensive for tuition. They must rent a room and pay for additional food. Less than 25% of the students from our villages attend a secondary school.