I had this trip to Haiti planned for months. I was looking forward to going to Haiti to finally meet the staff and student’s of L’ecole De Choix. L’Ecole De Choix is a primary school in Haiti that was built after the 2010 earthquake. I met the founder of the school (Laura Pincus Hartman) in Aix-en-Provence of all places and once I heard about the school and her vision for it, I knew I had to get involved. We have been working with Laura since May – helping to raise awareness and funds. We escorted her to CANNES LIONS where her school was one of three non-profits chosen by Microsoft and FastCompany to be part of the Create GOOD campaign. We went to New York City with her in November to attend the FastCompany Innovation Festival where she was part of a panel session on the importance of innovation for non-profits. And over the holidays we hosted a party in Aix-en-Provence that raised more than 6,000 Euros for the school and resulted in three students getting sponsored.
So, last week I was excited to finally meet the students and staff of this school that has become such a big part of my life. After 10 hours on an airplane, months of planning (I even arranged for my 16 year old daughter to come with me – taking her out of school for a week and giving her the job of photo journalist), I landed in Miami only to find out that the trip to Haiti was cancelled! No, not because of the Zika virus – that is a threat for sure – but the visit was cancelled because of political issues that have been haunting the country forever but were reaching a fiery peak. Haiti’s presidential election process was being protested and demonstrations were turning violent. Choix made the very difficult decision to cancel the visit to the school.
Ione often sends out spot updates, which are always interesting and enjoyable. She routinely shares both school successes and challenges. She has described the school’s intricate safety procedures – pointing out that these are in effect all the time and not just now because of the political unrest. She’s always looking out for the student’s best interests. A recent example is the Homework club she created to ensure that students without support at home got the help they need to keep their grades up. The philosophy at Choix seems to be centered on teaching its students to be good to themselves, good to others and to always put their best effort forward. (What a simple and great way to go about life!) So far, it looks like this is paying off. Ione reports on how well the Choix graduates are performing compared to their peers and one common attribute is their motivation.