January 22, 2019

Old Lyme Generosity Builds a School for Didier in Haiti, Donations Still Welcome

Oliancy Charles and Francky Louis (pictured left), who live in the Artibonite Valley in Haiti, are two men on a mission. 

After the earthquake that devastated parts of Haiti in 2010, they started an organization to provide community support in the very poorest regions of their economically challenged local area.

Their aim was to help the community work together to ensure that basic human necessities such as food, water and education are provided to those most in need in the area.

Currently, Charles and Louis are helping the people of Didier, an isolated town where schools are not accessible to the estimated 600 children in the area. The people who live in the area see education as a path to a better life and are determined to make education available to their children.

Working with the parents, Charles and Louis first built a small school with banana leaf walls, but sadly it collapsed in the rainy season. It was rebuilt in a more protected area, but the school is slowly deteriorating. Those involved therefore decided to build a school of solid construction — land was bought and plans were made.

School in Haiti.

The Crosby Fund for Haitian Education, which is run by Becky and Ted Crosby of Old Lyme, has been  providing scholarships for students in Haiti for 15 years and now supports hundreds of students.

When the Crosby Fund took its first group of local high school students to Haiti in 2014, Hannah Behringer and her mother, Julie Martel, were among the travelers. On that trip they first met Charles and Louis.

On return visits to Haiti, Charles and Louis continued to demonstrate their hard-working and generous nature along with a desire to help their community in the face of very limited resources. Martel comments, “They raised some funds for the school, but securing funds in a country with no public school system is extremely challenging.”

After hearing the story of the school, mother and daughter Martel and Behringer decided to helpCharles and Louis, so they set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the school construction. It has been progressing successfully, thanks in large part to generous donations from residents of Lyme and Old Lyme, who value education for children locally and around the world.

Construction is progressing on the new school, but donations are still needed.

Over $13,000 of the $20,000 target has been raised and donations are still being received. Behringer notes, “Education strengthens not only individuals but also countries. It is rewarding to contribute to an investment that will make a lasting difference in people’s lives.”

Initial installments of money raised have been sent to Haiti and construction has started. A group of local high school students traveled to Haiti with the Crosby Fund recently and hiked up to the school site both to see for themselves the status of  construction and to spend time with students that attend the school.

Brynn McGlinchey, a junior at Lyme-Old Lyme High School who has helped with the fundraising, was on the trip. She summarized her impressions after visiting the construction site, saying, “I had been eagerly waiting to see the progress of the school in Didier since my visit to Haiti last spring. I was so impressed to see how much has been accomplished in a year.”

She continued, “As we arrived at the work site, we noticed a man trekking up and down the steep hill to deliver large rocks to Haitian masons. I was amazed to see this dedicated group of people working together in 90 degree heat to use the funds we have raised to build this school.”

Students from Old Lyme hike up to the School for Didier in Haiti’s Artibonite Valley.

McGlinchey concluded, “As our group watched the building progress, students joined us, giggling and pointing at what will soon be their permanent school. Their enthusiasm showed their appreciation of this project and their excitement to learn in this new building.”

Editor’s Note: If you would like to contribute to this project to build a school for Didier in Haiti, please visit the GoFund Me website that Mertel and Behringer created at  https://www.gofundme.com/help-haitians-build-a-school and follow the simple instructions for how to donate. 

Alternatively, if you would prefer to send a check, then make it payable to the Crosby Fund for Haitian Education with a note “School for Didier” and mail it to P.O. Box 953, Old Lyme, CT 06371, USA.

Thank you!