VICTOR HUGO SCHOOL (HAITI)
What Your Gift Will Do
Your gift will support education for children in Gonaives, Haiti
Victor Hugo School aims to give education and skills to children of all ages. It is the first school of its kind in the community and represents the efforts of local people to make things better for the next generation.
Gonaives is one of the poorest parts of Haiti and was at the epicenter of the cholera break-out in October 2010 after the devastating earthquake of January 2010. Since 2005, there have been 170,000 people displaced to Gonaives from Port-au-Prince and other areas. Most displaced families are homeless and cannot afford to pay for school for their children.
The outskirts of Gonaives in the Pont-Gaudin region does not have a stable public school system. The free education provided by Victor Hugo School helps to break the cycle of poverty by giving entire generations the skills they need to achieve success and economic stability.
Funds raised by the Champion and channeled through One World support Victor Hugo by covering overhead costs such as teachers' salaries, school supplies, and construction costs to ensure that the school survives without asking students and their families to pay for an education that they cannot afford.
Victor Hugo School currently has 112 students in 7 classes, with ages ranging from 4 to 17.
The huge impact that the school has had can be seen in its achievements to date:
The school's enrollment rate has increased by 20% every year since it opened in 2010.
In 2010, the school implemented a summer program for all children in the community. An alternative to year-round schooling, the summer program is less of a strain on the lives of children who need to work for survival. It has now been running for four years, and provides literacy education through bible study as well as a daily meal.
In 2011, the school put its first class of students through the National Exit Exam, a benchmark test that assesses students' knowledge in their 6th year of school. They passed with a success rate of 90%.
In the summer of 2013, the school hosted celebrations for Haitian Flag Day, cementing its status as a community institution and gathering larger local recognition.
In 2013, the school partnered with Dr. Enoch Choi’s medical team to open a two-day clinic for the students. Dr. Choi reported treating high levels of tuberculosis, asthma, malnutrition, and malaria among the students.
The first class of students passed the National Exit Exam with a 90% success rate.
Although the Victor Hugo School opened in 2010, it really started in 2004 when Charles Henry decided that it was time to start fighting back against the poverty he saw and experienced in his community. He first opened a vocational school in 2006 with his wife Patricia in an effort to make sure that the community’s children would have a sustainable source of income after completing the program. However, the school closed down after the effects of natural disasters and a lack of funding.
Charles, Patricia, and their team did not back down after this first attempt. After saving and planning for three years, they finally bought the land to open the Victor Hugo School, a fully licensed k-12 primary school in 2010. The school quickly became the community’s pride and joy, with it’s cheery murals painted on the outside walls. However, the school quickly began to struggle with the same problems that Charles faced in 2006. The goal of the school was to lift children out of poverty, but because of this state of poverty, there was no way that families could afford education. There was no funding for the school to function as a private school, but Charles could not ask students to pay.
But in October of 2010, Charles Henry made the decision to act as a translator for his friend Jessie Mendoza, a team leader for a Jordan International Aid medical team visiting Haiti to do relief work in response to the 2010 earthquake. In return, JIA’s medical team would do a clinic at the Victor Hugo School. One of the team members was Grace Linderholm, a sixteen year old who had gone on the trip with her mother (an internist) to help however she could. After working with Charles, Grace knew that together, they could make the Victor Hugo School into a sustainable community institution. The two applied to become a member project of One World Children’s Fund, an umbrella non-profit that serves children around the world. After a rigorous selection process, the Victor Hugo School Project was created as OWCF’s first project in Haiti. The rest, as they say, is history.
Amelia Gurley, Owen Linderholm