After renting 5 different facilities for the school over the course of 10 years, we paid off the building and became official owners on April 25th, 2016. We did so thanks to a generous donor in the United States who loaned the remaining $70,000 we owed with a 3% annual interest rate. We, therefore, make monthly payments to her at $740.39. This loan was nothing short of a miracle and just in time!
In May 2017 Morehouse College helped to turn the right side of the building, which still had chain link walls, into block walls. This was one of the steps we needed to take in order to get accreditation for the school. Other steps include hiring a secretary, a psychologist, teachers with a degree in Education, and recess space. We are working on them all and hope that this year will be the year! The biggest hurdle, purchasing the building, is under our belt. However, we still have more work to do in order to pay off the loan and finish rennovating it.
Our biggest challenges and needs for rennovation are related to electricity, ventilation, and noise. The plan is to put iron bars along one wall there there is enough space that a person could enter. Our electricity bill more than doubled this year with no new appliances so we suspect that someone is stealing electricity during the nights, but we are not sure. It is also suggested that we do a reworking of the electricity to reduce energy losses and dangers.
Lastly, we hope to put in drop ceilings in each classroom with ceiling fans. This will help with ventilation and also the noise that travels from classroom to classroom making it very challenging to teach.
While we are paying off the loan we are renting the outdoor space to mechanics. The rent money helps to make the loan payments, but does not cover them. When the loan is done being paid off, we can convert that space into recess and physical education space. The eating area will potentially be outside as well.
During the 2016-2017 school year we had 175 students ranging from ages 3-18 and grades pre-school to 7th grade. School runs from 8am to 1pm each day. We have a bilingual curriculum in Haitian Creole and Spanish specifically designed for the population we serve. We have an experienced director who has worked with the Ministry of Education here for decades.
On a final note, not only does the school function as a school with adult classes and English classes in the evenings as well, but as a community gathering place. We were able to help over 100 individuals register in the National Plan of Regularization for Foreigners which took place in 2015 for the first time in the history of the country and granted beneficiaires with residency of varying lengths depending on their specific circumstances. This is truly a big job we have on our hands and we need all the extra hands that are willing to chip in!
Again, thank you.