Building Dreams in Haiti Reaches Goal to Improve School
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (April 25, 2023) Students and teachers at an overcrowded, structurally unsafe school in Kenscoff, Haiti, are closer than ever to realizing their dream of having a much-improved space for their studies, thanks to the generosity of Food For The Poor (FFTP) donors and the Building Dreams Virtual Event.
The fundraiser launched last September under the leadership of Fr. Medard Laz, retired pastor of Holy Family Parish in Inverness, Ill. With the support of donors, students and teachers at École Presbytérale Jean Paul II soon will no longer have to squeeze into overcrowded classrooms in buildings made of metal sheets, concrete blocks and wood, without proper sanitation.
“We’re so grateful to our donors for their willingness to help Haiti and all of the students,” Fr. Laz said. “There’s hardly a donor that I speak to that doesn’t get multiple requests for support, so it’s wonderful that of all the requests from people seeking help and resources, they are supporting Haiti. It’s a challenging time in Haiti, but we know that with Food For The Poor, we’re going to get the job done.”
With the help of its partner St. Nicholas Parish, FFTP-Haiti will provide a 6,500-gallon cistern with gutters, a handwashing station, a three-classroom block and a computer lab. The funds also will cover the costs of clearing debris, installing retaining walls and other improvements.
One of three schools in the community, École Presbytérale Jean Paul II serves 1,500 students. Tuition is about $127 a year, however, only a few parents can pay this fee. Ninety-five percent of the working residents in Kenscoff earn less than $1 per day, primarily working on farms, driving motorcycle taxis and doing masonry work. Most eat only one meal a day and, with little access to water, either collect water from a reservoir or walk about an hour to a water source.
FFTP President/CEO Ed Raine said the improvements will significantly enhance the students’ ability to study, focus and ultimately build a better life for themselves and their families.
“Haiti needs us now more than ever,” Raine said. “This project will benefit 1,500 students by giving them a safe, comfortable space to study and get an education, and we know that is imperative in helping them build better lives for themselves and their families. We couldn’t do this without the generous support of our donors.”
For the past 17 years, Fr. Laz, founding pastor of Holy Family Parish, has helped to fund numerous projects in Haiti through FFTP. While past fundraisers took place in person in suburban Chicago, the recent event was the third to be held virtually due to concerns about COVID-19. Whether in person or online, donors embraced the dream of helping those in desperate need.
Fr. Laz also acknowledged the contribution of Andrew and Florette Sokulski, who for 14 years hosted Dreams, Past & Present, Julie’s Legacy Dinner with Fr. Laz and members of the Holy Family Catholic Community, to build homes, community centers, clinics and schools throughout Haiti. They dedicated their efforts to the memory of their daughter, who died when she was 32. Although the couple did not participate in the recently completed fundraiser, their earlier contributions will always be remembered.
To learn more about Building Dreams and to make a donation in support of École Presbytérale Jean Paul II, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org/buildingdreams.
Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry children and families living in poverty primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, water, medicine, educational materials, homes, support for vulnerable children, care for the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.