In October 2011, COHH opened its school with its first class – 15 first grade level children who were the poorest of the poor and would not otherwise be able to go to school. The curriculum is based upon the curriculum required by the Haiti Department of Education and supplemented to include enhanced learning development program based on US education requirements. The classroom has been enhanced to provide a "hands on" learning environment with inter-active learning techniques. A video of the school opening and the children can be seen at right.
Our children go to school virtually year round. Our school day extends beyond the normal school day in Haiti and includes tutorial help for the children to attain an advanced education. We provide a broader curriculum and a western-style teaching format for the classes. According to our plan, we have added a new first grade class each year and the prior classes continue to progress. When the children complete 8th grade, they will be transitioned to privately run high schools.
There is no shortage of teachers that would like to teach at our school. In the interviews we find that apart from the enhanced compensation, the teachers like the curriculum and the classroom environment. Our vetting of teacher prospects is rigorous and forthright – we want the best teachers in Haiti. The teachers undergo special training during the summer and careful review before they are accepted for the school year. Thus far, our teachers have been nothing short of enthusiastic about the training and eager to teach the new curriculum. We are very proud of them.
Our School Children
Our non-orphan children reside with various family members ranging from grandparents to distant relatives. In all cases they come from the poorest of the poor families in Hinche that often have many children and few if any attend school. School is too expensive for these families. We do indeed provide hope not only for the child that is selected, but also for the family. We provide the children breakfast and lunch at school. For most of our children these are the only meals they receive each day. We provide each child with two school uniforms and a pair of shoes to start each school year. We provide their school supplies including their backpacks, books, paper and writing instruments.
Our orphanage facilities have been completed for some time. However, we did not receive our first orphans until September 2013. We wanted to be well-prepared to receive orphans with reliable and trained caregivers. We want to provide a caring and loving home environment that will allow the children to develop to their fullest potential.
Because of the various living arrangements that exist in Haiti, it difficult to know who qualifies as an orphan. It is not easy to draw a bright line and for the most part you must use your best judgment in light of the circumstances at the time. The orphans will also meet our criteria for our school.
On October 20, 2010, we celebrated the Grand Opening of our orphanage. It was indeed a dream come true. Over 300 people came out to help celebrate. In addition to the people of Hinche, led by the Andre Renard, the mayor of Hinche, we had members of our Board and Advisory Board and other guests from the United States. Our program opened with a march down the main roadway with the people (led by the choirs of the Morique Baptist Church) singing the official song of COHH – Marcher Dans La Lumière (Walk In The Light). The people were welcomed by James L. Lipscomb, Executive Director and Pastor Wisny Geffrard opened with a prayer of thanksgiving.