Friends of Haiti in New York (FOHNY) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to assist impoverished families in rural Haiti by providing enhanced education, quality healthcare and sustainable economic development. What started as a group of volunteers building a primary school has grown into an organization that strives to address all of the multi-faceted needs of the community of Bois Tombe, Haiti.
In 2007, the first seed was planted when 60 children gathered under a tarp as a make-shift primary school. Two years later, thanks to a $15,000 donation from the Spanish government, we were able to build a solid structure with four classrooms. In 2014, a generous donation by the Digicel Foundation enabled us to add a middle school.
The school grounds have gradually expanded since then to include a variety of initiatives to complement the challenges facing our students. It now holds a community center, medical clinic, cafeteria, ground water tower, corn grinder facility, and food forest.
Our next project is to round out a full education with a technical high school. Its modern, sleek design is meant to inspire our students to reach into the future. We’ve set a fundraising goal of $1M by the end of 2015.
Children walk great distances to get to school in rural areas. We currently have 400 students, grades pre-k – 9th grade.
Technical High School
Plans to build a technical high school are in progress and is intended to provide the “next step” for students that graduate from the primary and middle school. Our vision is to provide further education that supports a curiosity of learning, combined with vocational training that helps our graduates contribute to the local economy in a productive way.
According to recent data, 51% of children in the municipality of Fond Verrette (where Bois Tombe is located) suffer from mild to severe illnesses. Since 37% of children go hungry every day, many of these stem from malnourishment
We recently completed building a health clinic on the grounds that is open to all students and families in the area. We are hiring an experienced nurse to be there 5 days a week, supervised by a medical doctor (Pediatrician), who will come up to Bois Tombe twice a month. They will primarily be catering to the needs of the children in the community.
We serve a full hot meal each day for lunch to our students. It can be tempting to drop out of school to take a job to support a family, and we’ve learned that it creates a significant incentive for children to continue coming to school. We plan to add breakfast to the menu in the near future.
Haiti continues to be the poorest nation in the western hemisphere. The lacking structure of the formal economy makes it difficult to gather precise statistics on the workforce, but it is estimated that approximately half of the population is unemployed. Families in rural areas are at a greater risk of lacking opportunities. Innovative ideas to stimulate the local economy are in dire need.
Planting for Hope
This project is an ongoing effort to create a sustainable food forest on the school grounds that combines re-forestation with plants that are part of people’s diets. It is located on the school grounds and is surrounded by vetiver, a plant that is used to make the base note of the vast majority of perfumes and fragrances worldwide.
De-forestation dating back to the French Revolution has left a permanent ecological imprint on Haiti. It has led to a fundamental transformation in the terrain of the country, creating a dry, desert-like climate on a tropical island. In more recent years, recurring natural disasters and a prevailing waste management problem has compounded the environmental issues. Drought and soil erosion are presently two of the most pressing ecological challenges in Haiti.
Thirty Liberty palm trees, the Haitian national emblem, now decorate the central courtyard of the school grounds. It is the heart of the school grounds, providing shade, beauty, and re-forestation. Our hope is that the trees will bring birds and help re-create other previously prevalent fauna native to Haiti.
Ground Water Project
We are currently building a tower that connects to a water source 160 ft. below the ground that will allow the community to farm and irrigate during the dry season.
We are a young, burgeoning organization built upon a small group of committed members. We are always on the look out for a few more. We understand that donations come in many different forms, from cash contributions, membership, donated resources, new ideas and volunteered time and energy. If you think you’d like to contribute any of these things or simply would like more information on the organization, please email us at: FriendsOfHaitiNewYork@gmail.com