Four days in Haiti that transformed lives
By Rashida Powell, Senior Marketing Manager
We all make a difference in the lives of others; but it’s not often that your place of employment gives you the chance to have a dramatic impact on an entire body of elementary school students, their community and possibly the future of a country. Earlier this year I was one of nine ambassadors from Advito and BCD Travel who visited L’Ecole de Choix in Haiti, the school we support through our corporate social responsibility initiative – Haiti Project. It was a profound experience.
The service trip took place in the town of Mirebalais, where the school is located. We left frigid climates in the US, UK, Germany, Belgium and Denmark for the tropical weather of the Caribbean. Equipped with brushes and many buckets of paint, we spruced up fences, doors and windows throughout the campus. We also interacted with students and teachers – dining with them and observing classes. We even got involved in sporting activities during recess and after school.
L’Ecole de Choix was established to invest in the next generation of Haitian leaders by providing high quality education. In a country where much of the population lives in poverty, the school is transforming the community. Students receive access to clean drinking water, balanced nutrition, and in-school medical care and supplies. It serves 180 students in grades 1 through 6, and the student population is equally divided between genders, as is the teacher population. With a philosophy that education can transform lives, the institution nurtures the development of strong, well-educated Haitian leaders from their first day of school through graduation.
While talking to the teachers, I learned about their passion for the school and the opportunities they are providing to the students. Beyond that commitment, there was another factor that caught my attention: they help these young students develop a sense of pride in themselves, their community and their country. The point was driven home in the lyrics of a song the children sing each day about loving their country.
Each of us returned from the trip as storytellers – enriched by the experience and eager to share with our colleagues that the funds we raised to support this school is changing lives. So many employees contributed to our employee efforts to raise $50,000 last year, which was matched by the company and the board for a total of $150,000. We’ve also impacted the life of a lively fourth grader, Diadara, through a sponsorship. And in just a couple of months another group of employees will visit L’ecole de Choix to see the impact firsthand. There are opportunities for you to learn more about our 5-year Haiti Project initiative and help with fundraising at www.bcdhaiti.com.
Meanwhile, I want you to know that we are doing a really wonderful thing. We are empowering kids with knowledge and pride to transform their lives and change their world. That’s an accomplishment that brings even more meaning to our jobs. While our mission trip lasted only four days, the collective contribution we are making will last many lifetimes.