In light of July being designated as National Make a Difference to Children Month, we wanted to take a moment to share our positive impact on children.
Despite the turmoil in Haiti, Jou Nouvo persists with determination and courage. In an environment wrought with violence, poverty, and natural disasters, we exist to empower vulnerable youth in Haiti by providing them with access to quality education, healthcare, and opportunities for personal and professional growth.
And as a board, a team, and a community, our dedicated group finds a way to collectively support the core mission of education. We take the time to visit the community in Haiti and engage with their students and program recipients, truly listening to their needs for the growth of their community.
Education is Hope
Imagine this: You’re a seven-year-old girl. You want to run and play with your friends. You beg your parents for the latest toy and list down all the reasons why they should buy it for you. You want to do all the things that typical seven-year-old kids wish to do—and you get to.
Does this sound anything like your upbringing?
Unfortunately, for a seven-year-old girl in Haiti, this isn’t the case. Instead, she spends her time with a hungry belly, worrying about when her next meal will be. Her parents are struggling, both of them are nearly unemployed. Her only choice is to stay at home and go hungry, sometimes without food for days. She may only eat once that week. Instead of begging her parents for a new toy, she asks to go to school. She longs for an education, but her parents can’t afford it, so they have to tell her no.
This is the reality for so many children in Haiti. And it’s why Jou Nouvo was founded.
With the purpose of addressing the urgent need for accessible education in Haiti, Jou Nouvo aims to break the cycle of poverty and provide opportunities for a brighter future for the country’s youth.
Through our Child Sponsorship Program, we send as many kids as we have sponsors to good schools in order to give them the best chance to succeed and the right tools to do so.
The right tools to make a difference
One of those tools is their Tutoring Program, started 2 years ago, with a session during the week and one on the weekend to make sure their sponsored children have a space to go to get help with their homework, have access to books, and feel supported by their community. Not only do the tutoring sessions ensure the children will be successful in school, but they also provide them with a hot meal during this time. Jou Nouvo has found that the children cannot wait until the next day they can come to the Community Center.
There are many stories that can be told to depict the reality of children in Haiti right now. It’s not safe in the community of Bon Repos, Haiti, and it’s not safe at home. But when they go to Jou Nouvo’s Community Center, they are provided with a sense of security. Jou Nouvo, our leaders at the Community Center, and older children and adults in our programs are there to share with these kids how they can change their situations and make a better future for themselves.
With all that Jou Nouvo does, we are still limited by budget and the number of resources we have. There are currently around 75-100 children on the waiting list for the Child Sponsorship Program who keep their fingers crossed that they’ll soon be able to go to school. With new sponsors (“the cost of that is less than somebody’s Starbucks every day,” Tofuri notes), Jou Nouvo eagerly awaits and stands ready to add these children to the program and enroll them in good-quality schools.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel… and that light is the hope of education.
The Power of Listening
Jou Nouvo is changing lives every day and making a lasting impact. Rather than getting caught up in their own ideas, the leaders of Jou Nouvo turn to the community. Listening more to the people they are working for versus the people they are working with to hear what programs the community needs and what resources they would benefit from.
What makes Jou Nouvo special is that it is created and led by people who deeply care. Below is our core staff: Elta, Lynn, and Christle.
Since being founded in 2008, Jou Nouvo has expanded its programs to reach more people. We started with the Child Sponsorship Program and, to increase the opportunity for education, we added the Girls Scholars Program. This program is focused on increasing high school graduation rates for female students and encouraging their continuation in school.
The Haiti Youth Education Fund is a university scholarship program where Jou Nouvu has seen great success with students now being able to go to college right after high school. We also have mentoring, leadership, and tutoring programs to give every child and student the opportunity to succeed in school.
Jou Nouvo also provides programs for adults with their Adult Literacy Program. Adults who were unable to receive an education in their youth can now come to Jou Nouvo to learn to write their name, to read, and finally have the chance for education after longing for it for so many years. The economic development programs and resources that Jou Nouvo offers, such as small business loans, cooking classes, and sewing classes help entrepreneurs maintain their small businesses.
A safe Haven: our community center
One of the most crucial things that Jou Nouvo has been able to do is to create a Community Center (that now relies on a solar-powered system instead of a diesel fuel generator) to hold classes, programs, and support gatherings. This center is a safe haven for children, a place where they know they will be loved and cared for.
At the Community Center, university students can be hired as interns to apply what they learned in university and have a way to give back to their community as well. This is especially great for younger children to see how their lives can change through education. Every little piece of hope counts—having a Community Center brings all those little pieces together and creates an abundance of hope for the future of Haiti.
Breaking the Cycle of Hopelessness
In Haiti, education is not easily accessible to everyone. The majority of schools, about 80%, are privately owned, making it difficult for families to afford. As a result, many children are unable to go to school. Sadly, education is seen as a privilege rather than a basic right in Haiti.
We recognize that making education accessible is the cycle of hope. We are committed to being the grease in the wheel pushing that cycle forward.
With a commitment to education, economic empowerment, and listening to the community Jou Nouvo has made a remarkable impact on the lives of people in Haiti. Breaking the cycle of hopelessness by providing programs for growth and development, Jou Nouvo is creating a brighter future for many Haitians. Our dedication, resilience, and unwavering belief in the power of education inspire so many individuals who want to make a better life for themselves—and those who want to make an impact on the lives of others.
National Make a Difference to Children Month focuses on getting people to come forward and help at least one child. But Jou Nouvo is doing so much more than that. We are changing the lives of many children, young adults, and adults within the community, constantly adding to our programs to serve Haiti in whatever way we are able to. Not just in this special month, but every single day.
As Jou Nouvo continues to ask how we can make a difference in Haiti, we all should stop and take a moment to ask ourselves…How can we make an impact on just one child’s life?