Humanity First UMD's work in Haiti started in the Fall of 2015 when we were planning our first major international service trip. Through our connections with Humanity First USA, we reached out to the Bon Samaritan Primary School in the mountainous Seguin region of Haiti. We found that students there would greatly benefit from a new range of subjects that we could teach. So we began working on our 12-course curriculum which introduced concepts of environment, health, emotions and more. Finally, in January of 2016, we took a group of 12 UMD students on our first international service mission and it was a huge success. We all formed an incredible bond with the students at the Bon Samaritan School and with each other. We strengthened that bond when we went back in January 2017. While there we had the opportunity to meet the incoming students, congratulate the first graduating class, and deepened our understanding of the successes and limitations of the Bon Samaritan Primary School. This new insight will allow Humanity First UMD to offer support and assistance in the most effective way possible as we pledge our sustained involvement going forward.
In January 2016, Humanity First UMD completed our first ever international service trip to Haiti. We spent a week at the Bon Samaritan Primary School where we got to teach our newly designed lesson plans aimed to introduce students to topics ranging from emotional awareness to the scientific method. Overall, the trip was a great success! The teachers could use the lesson plans to teach from in the future and through it, we brought brand new concepts to the school. We got to understand the incredible community-oriented Haitian culture and break the stereotype of Haiti for hundreds across UMD's campus. Although our impact on the school was significant, the impact that the kids and the school had on UMD students was perhaps even more significant. From this trip, UMD students are going into public policy and international development, studying data to improve aid projects all over the world, and coming together to provide innovative ideas for service, both locally and internationally.
After seeing the change that Humanity First UMD could bring to the school and in seeing the impact the school had on UMD students, we decided we had to go back. In preparation for our return to in Haiti in 2017, we gathered rulers, pencils, notebooks and crayons. We assembled these into backpacks that were handed out to the children at the end of our time at the Bon Samaritan Primary School. We were also able to donate 80 plant science and water safety textbooks. While there we taught an all-new scientific curriculum which focused on plants, earth, and space, which was a great addition to our first curriculum. It was impressive to see how quickly these children caught on to each of the lessons we taught. We also had the opportunity to truly understand everything that the school faces by sitting down with the teachers and having an eye-opening discussion. Through this meeting, we gained meaningful insights about what is going on with the school and how we can help. For this trip, we set out to achieve higher expectations and develop a deeper connection and in that regard, this trip was a smashing success! Again, Humanity First UMD was able to bring a huge impact to the school and now, UMD students are developing new initiatives to establish at the Bon Samaritan Primary School.
There's Still A Lot To Do
During our trip in 2017, there was a lot of concern about the financial future of the school. All of the funding is sourced from private donations and is primarily used for teachers' salaries and maintenance. This funding was close to drying up, but through Humanity First UMD's trip, we made the Bon Samaritan Primary School a top funding priority and the school is guaranteed funding for 2017. Just through our trip, we brought over $10,000 to the school.
Although Humanity First UMD has already made huge strides in Haiti there is still work to be done. Though this school is one of the best in the region, there are still some gaps in the available resources - primarily in that of textbooks. Because of this, our goal is to raise money to supply the school with a complete set of textbooks.
After collaborating with the directress of the school, we determined that the cost of all the textbooks for one student is just $5. Additionally, each textbook lasts for 10 years. Because this is such a sustainable investment, Humanity First UMD has a goal to raise $3000 to supply the entire school with textbooks for the next 10 years. Some of this money will also go to creating a small library with textbooks in an array of subjects to allow the students and teachers to deepen their personal knowledge.
Humanity First UMD has demonstrated that we are able to achieve a lot through community support. Now that we have a great understanding of the Bon Samaritan Primary School, we know that this project will change the children and the community at large. This small project has the potential to catapult the Bon Samaritan Primary School into a much broader spotlight and give it new opportunities.