On the inauguration day of their new school, students met us at the bottom of the mountain. As we hiked together for the next two and a half hours up a steep and narrow footpath, it was clear that the journey with us to the top of the mountain was their way of saying thank you for helping rebuild their school after it was destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.
Our gratitude for the students and the parents of Marre à Coiffe is reciprocal. Collaboration and Resilience are Hope for Haiti core values, and our partnership with and the determination of the entire community was what made the new school project possible. It takes one person eight hours to transport a single bag of cement up the mountain to the new school site in Marre à Coiffe, a community with no automobile access. We needed to transport more than 350 bags of cement and tons of construction materials up the mountain, and the parents and families of Marre à Coiffe stepped up to carry the materials up the mountain any way they could. They did it to improve the quality of education for their children.
The community of Marre à Coiffe is a shining example of a more resilient Haiti, one that does not back down in the face of hardship and instead works to build a better, stronger future. The students, in particular, inspired us with their commitment to education and their ability to overcome numerous challenges to continuing their education, including one of the most powerful hurricanes to ever make landfall in the history of Haiti. And if you ask Benito Jean Louis, the school director at Marre à Coiffe, “for the first time, we have a school worthy of the Marre à Coiffe name. This makes all the difference in the community’s life and our children’s education.” Children like Ifencia Simon, an 11 year-old who’s lived in Marre à Coiffe her entire life and who believes “everyone in Marre à Coiffe is proud of the school. Having this beautiful school here is like a miracle. By having the chance to go to school and receive a good education, I am on my way to fulfill my dream to become a nurse and help my community.”