Walking down a trail from a beautiful waterfall near the village of Camp Coq in Haiti, I learned about the despair of poverty. By my side, Merlin Lormeus spoke about the struggle many parents living along this mountainous trail have in providing for their families.
To many of these parents, Lormeus represented hope for a better future. As the principal of the Institut Vision Moderne, a primary and secondary school in the village of Camp Coq, he could educate their children with the knowledge and skills that would provide them with opportunities to improve their lives.
The cost for this ticket out of poverty was $100 for a year’s tuition at Lormeus’ school. As we approached a stream crossing, Lormeus explained with heartache that he had to deny 72 children in the village of Camp Coq from an education at his school because parents could not afford the tuition expense.
I thought about how I have spent more than $100 to go to dinner at a nice restaurant with my family. The cost of educating a child for the academic year in this Haitian village is considerably less than a penny a day and its impact on a child’s development is so profound.
When Lormeus and I returned to his school, I felt the weight of his responsibility to not only maintain the standards of education for his children but to also provide the salaries for his faculty and to finish all the classrooms planned for his Institut Vision Moderne. Educated in the field of law, Lormeus could have established himself in the legal profession in Cap Haitien, the second largest city in Haiti and ably provide for his own family. Instead, he has become a community-minded leader dedicated to providing an education for others by doing whatever he can with what little he has.
As the director of the Build Haiti Foundation’s Global Leadership Program, which partners students and adult mentors from the United States with their counterparts in Haiti to address Haitian issues of importance, I have admired what Lormeus has accomplished not only with his school but also in his support of the Global Leadership Program in the village of Camp Coq. He has truly made a positive difference in the lives of his neighbors and much more could be accomplished with additional support.
On this Global Day of Giving (#GivingTuesday, Nov. 28), may we be mindful of the value of education, especially for those who cannot afford it, and use our resources to bring those 72 Haitian children out of poverty. Donations to the Laurel-based, Build Haiti Foundation at TheBuildHaitiFoundation.org will be directed to these educational scholarships.
For more information on the work of the Build Haiti Foundation in Haiti contact Robert Jean (Bob) Anantua, president of the Build Haiti Foundation at banantua@TheBuildHaitiFoundation.org or 443-285-3956. David Weeks is director of global education at Glenelg County School and director of the BHF Global Leadership Program. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-531-8600 Ext. 2411.