I'm Nittai Malchin, a senior at Palo Alto High School in CA and the founder of One Love Advocates. Our mission is to do whatever possible to improve access to education in communities that are struggling with destructive or endemic problems. My immediate focus is helping kids in Haiti gain access to educational opportunities. I recently traveled to Haiti, and I will be documenting my trip on this site. There are 4 sections (see navigation above) to my mini site: (1) my blog where i document my activities, impressions and thoughts from Haiti (2) About One Love where you can read more about the initiative (3) Support One Love where you can learn how to get involved, donate or help (4) contact info. And on the right sidebar you will find more info such as links to other sites, feeds, photos, videos, and ways to contact me or share One Love with others. Also, check out the cool toolbar on the bottom of your screen to see our videos, photos, and Facebook page, for translations, and more. Thank you for visiting and feel free to share your thoughts.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Permanent Future

Hey everyone, sorry about the lack of consistent posts in the last couple days - things have been pretty crazy around here..

Above is a video of Daniko (Daniel Kedar), who runs Prodev, speaking about the upcoming schooling project. Up until now, children have only been attending makeshift schools that are simply large tents. These schools are often located within the tent-cities (areas such as parks that have become mini-cities composed of tents after the earthquake), which are obviously extremely unpleasant, distracting, and inappropriate locations for schools. The schools usually contain somewhere between 2-4 classes at a time. Since the schools are tents, there are no walls or other sound barriers, leading to a great deal of outside noise which proves to be rather distracting to the students.

In Orangaix, the area in which the new school will be built, however, the environment is quite the opposite. This city is only 5 miles away from Cite Soleil (which will be featured in one of the upcoming posts), the largest slum in the Western Hemisphere. Fairly unharmed by the earthquake, Orangaix presents a large space that has a calm, peaceful, and welcoming climate. What was once intended to be a set of basketball courts, now only large regions of concrete that have been abandoned, will be transformed into a legitimate set of classes. The quiet and "school-like" environment will allow the students at this school to truly enjoy the benefits or receiving a good education - something that is very rare in Haiti.

At this site, there will be about 9 classrooms built, which will serve several hundred students. Although Orangaix is not densely populated, there shouldn't be an attendance issue because education is such a need in the lives of the Haitian people. This project will be innovative in another aspect as well - its teaching system. In most schools in Haiti, the curriculum essentially revolves around memorization and regurgitation of ideas and concepts. For example, student know the flow of the blood in the body by heart and can recite it flawlessly, but if you were to stop them in the middle of their recitation, they basically have no idea what they were talking about. The new school at Orangaix, however, plans to incorporate an interactive system of learning so that the students truly understand the concepts that they are being taught so that they will be able to make use of them later on in their lives. For example, the new school will feature an indoor garden where the students will have the opportunity to learn about agriculture - a profession that will surely be useful in the future.

It's vital that projects such as this one at Orangaix are successful, as they provide children with a long-term opportunity to create a better future for themselves. Now that the chaos is beginning to settle down after the earthquake, permanent structures such as these can ultimately leapfrog the current flawed educational situation and lead to a future functional educational infrastructure.

Next time I go to Haiti (during the summer), I will visit the school at Orangaix to see the progress that has been made. The school is on schedule to be up and running by that time, as construction will end in a few months. I will be able to help teach the students there about computers, through the program we have developed (see the next posts in the coming days), or simply play soccer with them and provide them with the proper equipment. All that is ultimately needed to help the Haitian children achieve a brighter future is a legitimate facility, which will soon be in existence, and a little bit of support and attention. I hope to, along with Prodev, help bring these things to the deserving children of Haiti.

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