In Haiti, 80% of children in rural areas walk to school every day. This is one of the many obstacles they have to overcome to receive an education. This additional burden makes it even more difficult to convince young people that school is necessary for success in their future. Truancy and high dropout rates are all too common.
Rolinx Diverna is a French teacher at Stanford Charles Kelly Middle School in the Lori district of Trou du Nord. He shared his sentiments regarding the realities that children in his community face each day, “When I observe the children in my community doing their best to go to school, [I find it bittersweet]. They have to brave the mud and filth just to go to class, usually on an empty stomach. In class, they are already wondering what they will find at home when they are overcome with hunger. They don’t really want to learn anything.”
For youth in rural Haiti, job prospects are few. The agricultural sector does offer many local opportunities; however, it’s often viewed as tedious and unprofitable. This lens prevents many, especially young people, from taking advantage of the wide range of opportunities the agricultural sector could bring them. Despite the fact that agriculture has great potential to generate food and income for rural Haitians, many young Haitians prefer to migrate to Port-au-Prince in the hope of living a better quality of life.
The other issue is lack of access to clean water. In an effort to alleviate some of the issues his students face, Rolinx sought to support them by allowing the children to use his neighbors’ well to quench their thirst and wash up before and after school. Despite the generosity of his neighbors, he knew this was not a good long-term solution for the children.
Malaika, an 8-year-old student of Mr. Diverna shared, “Sometimes the neighbors weren’t happy to see so many of us coming to their house for water. They looked down on us.”
In search of a more sustainable option, Rolinx sought to meet with Haiti Outreach to request a well for his community. With the buy-in from his community who agreed to form a Water Point Leadership committee, his request was approved and in 2019 the people of Lori had their own well.
This improved the lives of many locals who used to go to the neighbors’ house for water. Little Malaika is equally thrilled, she expressed, “Now that we have water in our community, I’m glad I don’t go to the neighbor’s house anymore.”
Rolinx serves as a leader not only for his community of Lori, but also supports 10 other communities in Trou du Nord who have received wells from Haiti Outreach. Each month he collects the well management reports to send them to the Water Point Committee supervisor. He travels the communities on foot and greatly enjoys his work. “People are always happy to see me knocking on their doors. Since I brought water to the community, they see me as their own son and I share their joy. “