After-School Program & Children’s Garden Project
The after-school program, now extremely popular among youth from in and around the Ti Plas Kazo neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, was launched in September 2009. Using equipment that was purchased over the years for the summer camp, the after-school program was initially designed to offer students and other young people tutoring as well as classes in computers, English, sewing, cooking, and crafts. A community garden project was also launched in 2009 with the hope of giving children the opportunity to learn about growing their own food. (You can read more about the Children’s Garden Project below.)
After assessing the needs of local youth in the aftermath of the earthquake, the after-school program staff redesigned the after-school program and split it into two sections. A section for children 8 to 14 years old now provides classes in computers, English, French, sewing, music, and life skills, as well as occasional classes in cooking and various arts and crafts. Another section for students 16 and older offers classes in computers as well as tutoring in physics, chemistry and mathematics to help the students prepare for the state exams required after the 12th and 13th grades. There are currently 240 students attending classes through the After School Program.
Jean-Marie Noel, who is well-respected and appreciated for his work coordinating the education programs, wrote the following: “For a long time I have been directing programs which support the development of young people in Haiti. Haiti is a poor country, and young people do not get much support. Right now, young Haitians from eight years up especially need more support. I put this after-school program within their reach to help them become more capable and to learn some skills which will allow them to support themselves in the labor market.”
In the spring of 2011, our partners in Haiti launched the Children’s Garden Project, through which they provide groups of children from the after-school and summer camp programs with experiential learning opportunities on a 3-acre teaching farm on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.
What If? Program Director Lavarice Gaudin (pictured in the photo on the right) started the teaching farm with his own funds in 2010 with 3 goals in mind: (1) to create a garden that can serve as a model for agricultural self-sufficiency and inspire others to use natural compost to grow food in and around Port-au-Prince; (2) to have a place to invite groups of children, including those enrolled in the after-school and summer camp programs that the What If? Foundation funds, out to the farm to teach them about growing food and composting; and (3) to grow and harvest vegetables and fruit to donate to the food program and to other families in need. By all of these measures, the farm is a great success
The children from the after-school and summer camp programs love going out to the farm and learning about the different plants and trees, and helping to pick vegetables and spices for the food program. One group of 65 children that visited the farm last summer roasted corn they had harvested, after learning how to make fires. The children rave about these trips!