We are ecstatic to have selected our first-ever pro bono client and as we near the end of January, our work is well underway. We were on the hunt for an organization who had the right foundation for a massive impact — they just needed some strategic support to get their message and brand out there.
Lumiere D’Education is the organization that runs L’Ecole Dinaus Mixed, a private school in the impoverished area of La Plaine, Haiti. Would you believe that 90% of the schools in Haiti are private because there is little-to-no infrastructure for government-supported education? We were shocked, too. We were also shocked — no, horrified — to learn that 400,000 Haitian children are surviving without their parents.
But, I’m not here with all bad news. The exciting thing about this story is that doing something small from here at home has the power to have a massive impact on an entire generation of children. Why? Because $1.00 USD is the equivalent to 77.00 in Haitian money. And when $50 USD is literally enough to feed these 140 kids lunch for half the month, it’s easy to see just how far every single dollar can be stretched.
Co-founders and siblings Gelina Mascoe and Caberbe Joseph founded the charity after struggling to fund this family-owned school from their own earnings. Their father, Dinaus Joseph, (if you were wondering where the school’s name came from!) felt compelled to do something to help the nation he and his family had left so many years earlier. He acquired the school back in 2005 and eventually handed the reigns over to his trusted adult children.
I was born in La Gonave, Haiti and when I was only three years of age, my parents relocated to the United States to start a better life for our family. As you can imagine, the process was not easy for them so my siblings and I remained in Haiti until my parents were finally established, nine years later. I am endlessly grateful that I was able to acquire an education here in the United States and I even went on to earn a college degree (self-funded) here, as well. I am definitely the Haitian exception rather than the rule and I am vastly aware that my life could have and should have (based on circumstances) turned out differently. Especially because my own mother, as the eldest child in her family, was responsible for the upbringing of her many siblings and with incredible poverty surrounding her for most of her life, was never able to obtain ANY formal education. I saw how this disadvantage affected all of us and I vowed to eventually make a difference in any way I possibly could. It is because of her struggle with life and poverty that I am exceedingly passionate about Haitian education.
Realizing it was no longer sustainable to run this school out-of-pocket, the two founded the organization Lumiere D’Education with a mission to provide free education to Haitian children who are eager to learn and gain the skills required to lead healthy, productive lives. The organization shines a light (Lumiere, in French!) on the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and empowers disadvantaged children to break the cycle of poverty.
One of the hardest things about running a charity like this is seeing first-hand how these children struggle, and not having the money to fix it. One example of this is the lunch program. If the kids aren’t fed by the school, they go without. Currently, they are only able to provide lunch to the children 2 or 3 days a week because the money just isn’t there to pay the cooks or purchase the ingredients. But do you remember how much it would cost to feed the entire school for two weeks? That’s right — fifty bucks. Another major issue, something we all take for granted, is running water. Currently, the school has no indoor piping and the children use an outhouse as the washroom. Something as simple as indoor plumbing would give these children access to clean drinking water during school hours, which is something most of us can’t even fathom our own children going without.
Yet in spite of these obvious hurdles and struggles, the most amazing thing here is how grateful each and every one of these children are for the opportunity to attend school. They don’t expect lunch, and they certainly don’t expect running water. But don’t they deserve it? We sure think so.
So there you have it. That’s our why behind selecting this incredible organization as our very first pro bono project. What this family has created, and accomplished, with incredible support from their own local community, is beyond selfless. And we hope that with our support, we can get this organization the long-term and consistent funding it needs to continue supporting these amazing 140 children.
Want to learn more or donate? See how far a few American dollars can go here.
(We are overhauling all of their digital assets so we will keep you posted and certainly share before and after photos with everyone. Connect with them on Facebook to keep up-to-date.)