Global development experts have long understood education as a primary tool for breaking the cycle of poverty and creating new opportunities for community-wide progress in healthcare, infrastructure, environment, and more. Organizations like the World Bank have spent years investing in K-12 education initiatives in Haiti for this purpose, and have learned how to address specific challenges in the country — due to lack of government funding, most schools are privately run and require tuition fees that many families cannot afford. This is similarly true in the Bainet region of southern Haiti; rural communities do not have access to school funding, and therefore must create their own programs or travel long distances to attend those that exist near population centers like Jacmel. Therefore, MIJABA is dedicated to providing free PreK-8 schooling to as many children as possible in the areas around Moreau, Moka, Source Benoit, Bonhomme, and Klosier — villages in this region that are home to hundreds of farming families. Through our work, we strive to achieve progress in several key areas.

First, ensuring that all children in rural Haiti have free and consistent access to educational resources is critical for early childhood development and overall well being. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals include education as Goal 4, due in part to how critical it is for children to develop literacy, numeracy, physical skills, and social/emotional well being from a young age. Children that do not receive adequate attention, resources, and care in an educational environment are less likely to lead long and healthy lives, due to the ripple effects of development gaps, illiteracy, economic barriers, and so on. For this reason, MIJABA has made great strides in providing pre-K and Kindergarten schooling for children in the Bainet region; from dedicated interactions with teachers to daily meals at school, the benefits of getting young children in school are innumerable and immeasurable. Our organization also strives to grow our school spaces and ability to accept more students to ensure that all children in Moreau, Moka, Source Beniot, Bonhomme, and Klosier have the opportunity to experience the life-changing benefits of attending school from an early age.

Second, investing in education and school facilities in rural Haiti provides spaces for the community to connect and collaborate in vital ways. Villages like Moreau and Moka already pool their resources to rent soccer fields so that students can participate in organized sports and academic competitions. Families also connect with the teaching staff and each other through school events in new ways that would not be possible without the ongoing success of the school. Longitudinal studies in the US overwhelmingly indicate that family and community engagement in education is one of the most important indicators of student success — thus, there is a reciprocal relationship between education and community building that is vital for both to grow and strengthen. Participation in the local schools in Moreau and Moka also creates new opportunities for volunteering and community collaboration — Dr. Jeff regularly engages students and their families to help grow gardens, plant trees, and establish vetiver grass hedges around the villages to teach vital life skills while improving local environmental health.

Further, education is the key to economic development and growth around the world. Research from organizations like the Brookings Institution and the World Bank repeatedly and undeniably shows that any level of education, especially secondary and postsecondary instruction, substantially increases employment opportunities, quality of jobs, and likelihood of consistent earnings across an individual’s lifetime. With this fundamental understanding of the role of education in developing countries, countless organizations have implemented programs and invested in schools in Haiti; these projects not only prepare young people for better employment opportunities, but also create demand for teaching and leadership jobs in the affected communities. This generates an economic ripple effect across Haiti, enabling additional investments in economic development, healthcare, infrastructure, the environment, and much more. By partnering with the communities in Moreau, Moka, Bonhomme, Klosier, and Source-Benoit, we have the exciting opportunity to not only ensure school attendance for their young people, but also to support a cohort of educational professionals and support services that will economically benefit the entire region.

Unsurprisingly, investing in schools for children has countless benefits for their lives and their communities. We are dedicated to raising funds and collaborating on projects to support the existing schools in Moreau and Moka, as well as build new schools in the villages of Source-Benoit, Klosier, and Bonhomme over the coming years. From ensuring healthy early childhood development to creating new economic opportunities into the future, education will always be our top priority in our partnership with these communities. Learn how you can get involved and consider donating to our work.