Thursday, August 14, 2014

I'm going to Haiti in September to help set up a school library

In 2010 I went to university to earn a Library Technician diploma. The main reason was so that I could help set up a library with Seeds of Hope Children's Ministry  in Zambia. Through my school at UFV  I connected with Paula Lindsey, another student in the program who helped to set up a library in Haiti with the non-profit organization called  Hearts and Hands for Haiti (HHH).

I contacted Paula to see if we could compare notes about our experiences, we had a good visit and discovered a similar passion for library work in developing countries.

Last spring Paula invited me to go with her to Haiti to set up another school library at Tarasse school. It didn't take me long to decide I wanted to go. As it turns out Paula can't make the trip this time but I am leaving September 20th and will return October 4th.

I am joining a library team from Raleigh, N.C. 

I don't know a lot about Haiti as I've spent more time learning about and visiting Zambia. I did read Paul Farmer's biography Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracey Kidder. I recommend this book for anyone who is interested in learning more about Haiti, global health, tuberculosis and anti-retro viral medication distribution in the developing world. Paul Farmer founder of Partners in Health was instrumental  in making ARV's freely available in developing countries that have been ravaged by HIV/AIDS.

A few facts I have learned about Haiti:

  • Haiti is 27, 750 sq. km. - smaller than the Netherlands, about the same size as Rwanda
  • For a Canadian contrast, Haiti is smaller than Vancouver Island
  • Haiti's population is 9,996,731 compared to Vancouver Island which has a population of 749,000)
  • Haiti established independence when African slaves revolted against the French in 1804
  • The earthquake in 2010 killed 300,00 people and displaced 1.5 million
  • Haiti is the poorest country in the Northern Hemisphere and is inundated with foreign aid
The 2010 earthquake destroyed much of Haiti and left 1.5 million people displaced
HHH, a Christian non-profit organization has been working in Haiti since 2001 strengthening churches, establishing schools and supporting children's homes. The literacy rate is very low in Haiti and reading is mostly done for academic purposes 

In Haiti, reading for pleasure is not a cultural norm

The first school library, Siloe Mission School in Poteau was set up in 2011,  now a second library is going to be set up in  Tourasse . This library can potentially provide books for 500 children.

I am collecting books in French, children's books, fiction and non-fiction. We will be setting up the library, cataloging the books, training teachers about library practices and reading to the children-in French. 

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