Today marks two years since the tragic January 12, 2010 earthquake which struck Port-au-Prince Haiti, killing nearly 250,000 people and forever changing the lives of millions of Haitians.
We at the Hinche Scholars/I Have a Dream Foundation would like to extend our sympathies to everyone who lost friends, family members and other loved ones when the earth shook two years ago. We stand in solidarity with all those around the world who are mourning on this solemn anniversary.
Yet as we recall the suffering of January 2010, we remember that in even the midst of suffering, hope can and will emerge. For the past two years, our project has sought to help displaced Haitian university students as they seek to acheive the dream of higher education. Each day since January 12, 2010 these young people have been a constant reminder that perseverance, hard-work and hope can move mountains.
Thanks to the dedication of these students and the generosity of our many volunteers, the Hinche Scholars project has now come to fruition. The path has never been easy, but along the way we have always found helping hands. From Oprah to Anderson Cooper, from the Richmond School Board to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, our supporters have been numerous and very kind. We have ovecome countless hurdles: fundraising, college acceptances, visas, and more.
Today three Hinche Scholars – Lude, Suze, and Frandy are entering their second semester at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond. We are also excited to announce that Berry Riche has been accepted at Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina.
Berry started classes this week at ECSU where he will be working toward a degree in business. Two years ago, Berry was only a few months from graduating from his Haitian university with a degree in accounting. When the earthquake struck, this young man saw his future literally collapse in every direction. Now, Berry is once again on track to graduation – thanks to you!
We look forward to watching Berry and all of our Hinche Scholars as they study hard and excel in their schoolwork. With your continued support both through financial contributions and volunteer/in-kind donations, we can help these students as they strive to improve themselves and return to help their country.
On another note, we need to say that this may be the last post for a few months. Hinche Scholars project coordinator Danny Yates will be out of the country and therefore this blog will be taking a bit of a hiatus. In the interim, please follow the news of the Hinche Scholars on the I Have a Dream Foundation website – www.ihaveadreamrichmond.org. On this website you will also find a link to donate and to contact us.
Thank you, or as our Haitian friends would say – “Mesi Anpil!”
As we celebrate Christmas and reflect back on the past year, all of us at the Hinche Scholars project want to say THANK YOU! This has truly been a banner year for our program, and we have nearly acheived our dream. For the first time since the tragic January 12, 2010 earhtquake, these four young people are back at college and working hard to make the most of this tremendous opportunity.
Ever since the arrival of Berry, Frandy, Lude, and Suze on August 11, the Hinche Scholars Project/IHAD has been engaged in a whirlwind of activity. (That is part of the reason for our lack of timely website updates) Thanks to your generosity we have been able to house, clothe, feed, and educate these four young people. We are delighted to announce that the first semester at J. Sargeant Reynolds was a tremendous success for all four students.
Even when the students are not in school they are constantly learning – adapting to American culture, seeing new sights and expanding their English vocabulary/comprehension. Although technically on “winter break” right now, the Hinche Scholars spent the past week travelling across Virginia, visiting historic sites such as Jamestown, Monticello and even Washington, DC. And as much as they are enjoying these new experiences, we are heartened by the fact that all four students deeply miss their homeland and eagerly look forward to returning to Haiti upon completion of their studies.
But for tonight we simply want to reiterate our deepest appreciation to everyone who has helped us make it this far. The list of supporters is too long for a mere blog post, and many of our greatest advocates would prefer to remain out of the limelight. So in conclusion we would just like to say thank you all, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.
We are so grateful for your continued support and we look forward to bringing lots of good news in 2012! For donation details, please see the sidebar at right or contact Project Coordinator Danny Yates by leaving a comment below.
Thanks once again to the IB Programme of Richmond Public Schools for supporting the Hinche Scholars Program. On Friday Dec. 9, the Hinche Scholars project had the honor of visiting Lucille Murray Brown Middle School where Suze Prince and Berry Riche shared their stories with 600+ middle school students. These young people listened attentively as Suze and Berry spoke of their beloved homeland and of the hardship faced by millions of Haitians, even today, nearly two years after the tragic January 12, 2010 earthquake.
We are particularly grateful for the generosity of the LMB student body and to the dedicated RPS administrators, Ms. Denise Lewis (Lucille Brown Principal) and Mrs. Tracy Cady (IB Coordinator). The “Hats for Haiti” fundraiser brought in $600 for our project - a remarkable sum of money for a school where so many students come from difficult backgrounds. Given the current financial situation, this contribution represents a true sacrifice for which we are so appreciative!
Suze and Berry had a fantastic time at LMB on Friday. Not only did they deliver an inspirational message for the young people in the audience, our Hinche Scholars also demonstrated how much progress they have made in such a short time. Before giving her speech, Suze apologized for any mistakes in her English, telling the students that it is quite difficult to navigate three languages (Creole, French, and English) all at once. What followed was an eloquent and powerful discours which brought tears to the eyes of some teachers and students.
On another note, this week marked the fourth month that the Hinche Scholars have been in Richmond. In some ways it seems like this time has flown by… wasn’t it just yesterday that Berry, Suze, Frandy and Lude were arriving at the airport? Even though the days have passed quickly, one thing is certain – our four Hinche Scholars are making tremendous progress both in their ESL studies and also in their comprehension of American culture (which we argue presents a much greater challenge than simply learning English). To top it all off, this week the students sucessfully completed their first set of college exams, which means that Christmas break has at long last arrived!
Please check back soon for more photos and Christmas updates. We are always looking for new supporters, both through financial contributions and donations of volunteer service or in-kind materials. As we enter the “Season of Giving,” please consider helping us continue with our mission of higher education for Haitian earthquake victims. Through your generosity we can accomplish this goal. For more information or to donate online, please visit www.ihaveadreamrichmond.org or contact Danny Yates at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you and Merry Christmas!
On Friday afternoon the Hinche Scholars were special guests of the TJHS IB program. Thanks to TJ Principal Ms. Tanya Roane and RPS IB Coordinator Ms. Tracy Cady who made this event possible. Berry, Suze, Lude and Frandy very much enjoyed the chance to meet and share their stories with the students in this program.
Next week we are very excited about a repeat presentation, this time for the Lucille M. Brown Middle School International Baccalaureate Program. We are also grateful to the entire Richmond Public Schools IB program for the interest and generosity for our project. Proceeds of all concessions sold at Tee Jay basketball games on Tuesday 12/6 (vs. Maggie Walker) and Tuesday 12/13 (vs. Godwin) basketball games will go to support these four Haitian students.
On another note, we came across an interesting article in the Haiti press this week. It appears that international focus is finally looking at Hinche as a viable location for decentralization in Haiti. Check out this article – http://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-4395-haiti-economy-economic-decentralization-and-regional-planning.html
As we approach the second anniversary of the tragic January 12, 2010 earthquake, it is imperative to stress the need for decentralized governance and commerce in Haiti. Hinche has many unique advantages such as its close proximity to Port-au-Prince, central geographically location and geologically safe zone.
In the years to come we look forward to seeing our very own Hinche Scholars take part in the leadership needed to effectively implement this much needed decentralization.
It’s not everyday that a displaced Haitian university student gets to shake hands with Colin Powell. But that is exactly what happened this weekend when the Hinche Scholars attended the Building Leaders Symposium at St. Christopher’s School in Richmond.
This two day program included a full schedule of motivational speeches, networking and workshops which the four students collectively described as “amazing.” A special thank you to the I Have a Dream Foundation and the Henshaw family for making this unique experience possible.
With Thanksgiving just a few days away, we would also like to take this time to extend a sincere “thank you” to all of our supporters, through whose generosity this project has been possible. As the Hinche Scholars prepare to enjoy their first American turkey dinner this Thursday, we can only think of one thing to say and that is “THANK YOU!!!”
Each year on Veterans Day we have the opportunity to reflect on the enormous sacrifices made by members of America’s armed forces. This holiday also allows us an opportunity to celebrate the miracle that is the United States. Yesterday as we recognized the men and women who have given selflessly in service of our country, the Hinche Scholars program remembered a second milestone of sorts.
Exactly three months ago, four displaced Haitian students arrived in Richmond, VA. Thanks to your generosity and continued support, these earthquake victims are once again back in school. One of the Hinche Scholars recently told me that of all the qualties which he admires in the U.S., the greatest of these is the hard-work and success of our citizenry. America truly is a “land of opportunity,” both for these exchange students/future Haitian leaders and for millions of others who have benefitted from the fruits of our democracy.
The Hinche Scholars Project is dedicated to helping our four displaced Haitian students as they work hard and succeed through higher education. With your aid we can make turn this “dream” into a “reality.” After three months in the United States, Berry, Lude, Suze, and Frandy are doing quite well. Although these four young people are a bit homesick, they are each determined to study hard and make the most of their American experience.
In their first semester coursework at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, the Hinche Scholars have each received excellent marks from all of their professors. Outside of the classroom, the four students are also making the most of their time in Richmond. Recently they had a chance to share their perspectives on Haiti to a conference for Haiti missionaries.
Last week, while most of their peers were dozing on a crisp fall Saturday morning, our four Hinche Scholars were up early and had the chance to attend a regional Haiti gathering at St. Michael’s Church in Henrico, VA. A French proverb, popular in Haiti, says “le monde appartient a ceux qui se levent tot,” translated as “the world belongs to the early risers,” or the English equivalent – “the early bird catches the worm.”
This quote is very appropriate, as we believe that these four students are destined for greatness upon returning to Haiti. Please help us as we help the Hinche Scholars. A donation, of any size, will greatly assist our efforts to educate, house, feed, and develop these four future Haitian leaders.
For details on how to contribute, see sidebar at right. In addition, please let us know if you live in the Richmond area and are willing or able to help our students with an “in-kind gift,” such as a physical donation of clothing, food, or school supplies. We are also in search of volunteers to help with mentoring, grocery store runs, field trips, etc.
Thank you again and please do not hesitate to contact us with comments, questions, or concerns.