Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

One Child at a Time

Southporters Aid in Rebuilding Haiti



Primary school students do their homework at HEI’s after school tutoring program in downtown Jacmel.

Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. Educate a child? The sky’s the limit.

For Susan Whitcomb, those words couldn’t be more fitting. As a former college professor, this long-time Southport resident has been restructuring the way some kids are educated in Haiti.

Tropical and mountainous, Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. There are very few public schools. Most are privatized and run by religious or non-governmental organizations. Only a third of Haitian children reach the sixth grade. Often without textbooks, notebooks, or paper, they must memorize what they’re given. Electricity is sparse. Potable water is scarce. Illiteracy hovers around 50 percent. In a country slightly smaller than Maryland ravaged by years of political corruption and natural disasters, Whitcomb sees only the beauty and potential.

“Poverty has no respect for brains or capability,” she says. “The longer I work in Haiti, the more I appreciate it.” Whitcomb volunteered after the devastating earthquake in 2010. What she saw there made her determined to make a difference. With a little hope and a big idea, she launched Haitian Educational Initiatives (HEI) eight years ago. A 501(c)3 non-profit organization, it provides scholarships to 51 area schools in and around the villages of Jacmel and nearby Cayes-Jacmel.

Initially, her goal was to pay the school fees for ten kids. Today, that number is over 200. This year marks their first graduating high school class. While the average promotion rate in Haiti is five percent, HEI has a rate of 89 percent. “We’re growing a new generation of Haitians,” says Whitcomb, founder and program director of the organization.

Anne Svensk, a former HEI board member and long-time friend, traveled to the Caribbean island with Whitcomb a few years ago. The trip made a huge impact. “I visited two schools there,” she says. “One was an actual building, but the other had no roof. Just corrugated tin on four pillars. Very primitive. But I was impressed with the dedication of HEI and their partners.”

Haiti is not a nation, says Whitcomb, but a cluster of families. Breezing in thinking you can fix everything and go home doesn’t work. To gain a foothold, you need a connection. That’s why it has been important to collaborate with boots on the ground. They work with two local community groups—Fondation Jean Bellande Joseph and Cercles Amis des Enfants en Situation Difficile—to help them problem-solve.

Unlike other aid organizations, this operation has no middleman. Your wallet has a direct connection with the kids who need it most. HEI president Jim Whitcomb praised his sister’s mission. “Money funneled through the government doesn’t go where it’s supposed to,” he explains. “Susy goes down and takes it directly.”

Abigail Franklin, HEI’s secretary, agreed the hands-on relationship with their local partners has been essential and is largely due to Whitcomb’s frequent trips every few months. “In the aftermath of the earthquake, there was a lot of publicity about money pouring in to Haiti and it wasn’t going to the charitable purpose intended,” she says. “There was just a lot of corruption and that affected people’s willingness to donate.”

On average, Whitcomb said 90 cents of every dollar goes into production. By providing funds for school fees, uniforms, learning materials, after-school tutoring, job training, and food programs, these kids can have a brighter future.

“What people don’t realize is that there are a lot of fees associated with going to school in Haiti—exams, uniforms, traveling costs,” explains board member Joanne Delone, co-founder of Haitian Building Unity. “A child may have to walk ten miles or take several taxis to get to school.”

But their focus doesn’t stop at the school room door. HEI has recently partnered with Jakmel Ekspresyon, a vocational school providing higher level training for graduates. They are planning for internships in fields like cooking, tailoring, and computer technology. “HEI is a small organization that has a big impact,” says Delone, Whitcomb saysthat small gestures make a difference. “It’s relatively easy to transform these kids’ prospects—food, books, a sewing machine, and an adult to look after them.”

With their help, HEI’s programs ensure Haiti becomes a richer country with every educated child.

 

Add your comment:

Connect With Us

               

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Homes for the Holiday

The Stratfield Village Association's first annual holiday house tour

Southern Charm

Sauces, jams, dressings to delight

Get Your Crafty On

AR Workshop is a great DIY place

Well Aloha

Pokemoto specializes in Hawaiian bowl-style dishes

Pass the Wine

Elegant Bianco Rosso expands to Trumbull with an acclaimed chef, pastry chef and mixologist

Profiles

Your Guides to Leading Local Professionals

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Edit ModuleShow Tags

December 2018

Saturday, December 8 and Sunday, December 9, 11am – 12:30pm & 1:30 – 3pm Register online at http://www.fairfieldhistory.org Enjoy a “tea” with cookies and milk with characters from “A...

Cost: Adults: $10; Children: $5; Children 5 and under: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »

More information

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

On December 9 from 12 – 3 p.m. bring your knitting projects or spinning wheels and enjoy a relaxing afternoon with seasoned knitters and spinners. They will coach you on your knitting challenges...

Cost: Free, but donations in support of New Pond Farm's fleecy flock will be welcomed!

Where:
New Pond Farm Education Center
101 Marchant Road
Redding, CT  06896
View map »


Telephone: (203) 938-2117
Website »

More information

Music on the Hill bell ringers add festive music to holiday shopping at the Westport store. Bells will ring at intervals throughout the afternoon. Kids may join in with sleigh bells. Stop by...

Cost: free

Where:
Westport Barnes and Noble Booksellers
1076 Post Road East
Westport, CT  06880
View map »


Sponsor: Music on the Hill
Telephone: 203-529-3133
Contact Name: Music on the Hill
Website »

More information

James Lancel McElhinney, journal-artist, author, Yale alumnus and  Pollock-Krasner Grant recipient will unfold the epic story of painted books, from the Age of Exploration to the digital era. He...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Ridgefield Library
472 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Library
Telephone: 203-438-2282
Contact Name: Laurie McGavin Bachmann
Website »

More information

Join celebrated artist Duncan Hannah as he discusses his memoir, 20th Century Boy: Notebooks of the Seventies, a rollicking and vividly immediate memoir of his life in 1970s New York — a lost...

Cost: free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Website »

More information

December 1 – December 31, 2018 Monday – Thursday, 10am – 1pm Fridays (December 7, 14, 21, 28), 10am – 7pm Saturday and Sunday, 10am – 4pm Vacation Week, December 24, 26, 27 & 31, 10am...

Cost: Members: Free; Adult: $5; Seniors & Student: $3; Children under 5: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »

More information

Each night from November 20th through December 31st the museum is transformed into a dazzling holiday light extravaganza! Every surface of the museum’s exterior becomes a canvas...

Cost: Free

Where:
Stepping Stones Museum for Children
303 West Avenue
Norwalk, CT  06850
View map »


Telephone: 203-899-0606
Contact Name: Stepping Stones Museum for Children
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

December 1 – December 31, 2018 Monday – Thursday, 10am – 1pm Fridays (December 7, 14, 21, 28), 10am – 7pm Saturday and Sunday, 10am – 4pm Vacation Week, December 24, 26, 27 & 31, 10am...

Cost: Members: Free; Adult: $5; Seniors & Student: $3; Children under 5: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »

More information

Each night from November 20th through December 31st the museum is transformed into a dazzling holiday light extravaganza! Every surface of the museum’s exterior becomes a canvas...

Cost: Free

Where:
Stepping Stones Museum for Children
303 West Avenue
Norwalk, CT  06850
View map »


Telephone: 203-899-0606
Contact Name: Stepping Stones Museum for Children
Website »

More information

The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Fairfield Chamber of Commerce and FELO (Fairfield Emerging Leaders Organization) will celebrate the holiday season with their 2018 Annual Holiday Party on Wednesday, December 11th, from...

Cost: $45 Chamber Members & FELO Members / $55 non Members

Where:
Fairfield Theatre Company
70 Sanford Street
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Fairfield Chamber of Commerce
Telephone: 203-255-1011
Contact Name: Krista McCormack
Website »

More information

December 1 – December 31, 2018 Monday – Thursday, 10am – 1pm Fridays (December 7, 14, 21, 28), 10am – 7pm Saturday and Sunday, 10am – 4pm Vacation Week, December 24, 26, 27 & 31, 10am...

Cost: Members: Free; Adult: $5; Seniors & Student: $3; Children under 5: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »

More information

Each night from November 20th through December 31st the museum is transformed into a dazzling holiday light extravaganza! Every surface of the museum’s exterior becomes a canvas...

Cost: Free

Where:
Stepping Stones Museum for Children
303 West Avenue
Norwalk, CT  06850
View map »


Telephone: 203-899-0606
Contact Name: Stepping Stones Museum for Children
Website »

More information

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Discover adventures on the tracks with books that spark the imagination. Sponsored by People’s United Bank.

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: People's United Bank
Telephone: 203-259-1598
Contact Name: Visitor Services Manager

More information

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

Each night from November 20th through December 31st the museum is transformed into a dazzling holiday light extravaganza! Every surface of the museum’s exterior becomes a canvas...

Cost: Free

Where:
Stepping Stones Museum for Children
303 West Avenue
Norwalk, CT  06850
View map »


Telephone: 203-899-0606
Contact Name: Stepping Stones Museum for Children
Website »

More information

The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

December 1 – December 31, 2018 Monday – Thursday, 10am – 1pm Fridays (December 7, 14, 21, 28), 10am – 7pm Saturday and Sunday, 10am – 4pm Vacation Week, December 24, 26, 27 & 31, 10am...

Cost: Members: Free; Adult: $5; Seniors & Student: $3; Children under 5: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Each event in our Art in Focus series offers an opportunity for an hour of close looking and informal discussion around a single work of art, led by Curator of Education Michelle DiMarzo. On...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bellarmine Hall
200 Barlow Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Fairfield University Art Museum
Telephone: 203-254-4046

More information

December 1 – December 31, 2018 Monday – Thursday, 10am – 1pm Fridays (December 7, 14, 21, 28), 10am – 7pm Saturday and Sunday, 10am – 4pm Vacation Week, December 24, 26, 27 & 31, 10am...

Cost: Members: Free; Adult: $5; Seniors & Student: $3; Children under 5: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »

More information

Each night from November 20th through December 31st the museum is transformed into a dazzling holiday light extravaganza! Every surface of the museum’s exterior becomes a canvas...

Cost: Free

Where:
Stepping Stones Museum for Children
303 West Avenue
Norwalk, CT  06850
View map »


Telephone: 203-899-0606
Contact Name: Stepping Stones Museum for Children
Website »

More information

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

Each night from November 20th through December 31st the museum is transformed into a dazzling holiday light extravaganza! Every surface of the museum’s exterior becomes a canvas...

Cost: Free

Where:
Stepping Stones Museum for Children
303 West Avenue
Norwalk, CT  06850
View map »


Telephone: 203-899-0606
Contact Name: Stepping Stones Museum for Children
Website »

More information

The Vagabond Theatre Company (VTC) presents their Second Annual Holiday Spectacular: It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Show. This year’s production, directed by VTC’s...

Cost: $15

Where:
Stony Creek Museum
84 Thimble Islands Road
Stony Creek, CT  06405
View map »


Sponsor: The Vagabond Theater Company
Telephone: 203-520-8332
Contact Name: John R Smith Jnr
Website »

More information

A two-night Zeppelin throwdown is coming back to The Warehouse this December. It is no secret that women rock, and rock hard. Seeing the all-female Led Zeppelin tribute...

Cost: $38/ticket; $98 VIP; Members Save: $3/ticket

Where:
The Warehouse at FTC
70 Sanford Street
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

A holiday tradition of family fun continues! • Take a horse-drawn carriage ride through Southport Village • Decorate cookies • Make a pine cone bird feeder and other holiday crafts • Listen...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Contact Name: Pequot Library
Website »

More information

The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

December 1 – December 31, 2018 Monday – Thursday, 10am – 1pm Fridays (December 7, 14, 21, 28), 10am – 7pm Saturday and Sunday, 10am – 4pm Vacation Week, December 24, 26, 27 & 31, 10am...

Cost: Members: Free; Adult: $5; Seniors & Student: $3; Children under 5: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Join us on Friday evenings when the Train Show is open late for fun, hands-on activities and refreshments.

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Saturday, December 15, 10am – 11:30am OR 12 – 1:30pm. Register online at http://www.fairfieldhistory.org Holiday fun for the whole family. Celebrate the magic of the season by creating a...

Cost: Members: $15; Non-Members: $18 per house.

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »

More information

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

The Vagabond Theatre Company (VTC) presents their Second Annual Holiday Spectacular: It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Show. This year’s production, directed by VTC’s...

Cost: $15

Where:
Stony Creek Museum
84 Thimble Islands Road
Stony Creek, CT  06405
View map »


Sponsor: The Vagabond Theater Company
Telephone: 203-520-8332
Contact Name: John R Smith Jnr
Website »

More information

A two-night Zeppelin throwdown is coming back to The Warehouse this December. It is no secret that women rock, and rock hard. Seeing the all-female Led Zeppelin tribute...

Cost: $38; $98 VIP; Members Save: $3/ticket

Where:
The Warehouse at FTC
70 Sanford Street
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

Come and meet award-winning columnist, author, and founder of Jackson, Grant Investment Advisers, Inc, Julie Jason. She'll be signing her most recent books, The Retirement Survival Guide, Managing...

Cost: 0

Where:
Barnes & Noble at the Stamford Town Center
100 Greyrock Place
Stamford, CT  06901
View map »


Sponsor: Julie Jason
Telephone: 203-322-1198
Contact Name: Theresa Robbins
Website »

More information

December 1 – December 31, 2018 Monday – Thursday, 10am – 1pm Fridays (December 7, 14, 21, 28), 10am – 7pm Saturday and Sunday, 10am – 4pm Vacation Week, December 24, 26, 27 & 31, 10am...

Cost: Members: Free; Adult: $5; Seniors & Student: $3; Children under 5: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Each night from November 20th through December 31st the museum is transformed into a dazzling holiday light extravaganza! Every surface of the museum’s exterior becomes a canvas...

Cost: Free

Where:
Stepping Stones Museum for Children
303 West Avenue
Norwalk, CT  06850
View map »


Telephone: 203-899-0606
Contact Name: Stepping Stones Museum for Children
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags