For many students and families in Haiti, finding the extra funding to pay for tuition is often a priority that takes second place to accessing food and water. Too often education is interrupted by lack of funds and resources; for some, they may not return. The necessities of life, and the demands a family may require of their children, become their education; their day-to-day livelihood. And thus, the cycle of lack is repeated. Students without sufficient education will have far fewer employment options later in life; and yet, families without sufficient food and water, will remain in the throngs of malnutrition. What can break the cycle? Jesus offers and opportunity.
Planting Life Haiti created the Agriculture Bursary Program to help support families struggling to pay tuition; but who acknowledge the need for continued education. Each year Planting Life Haiti commits time, energy, and funding to as many students as possible (currently 12). Applications are accepted from students in grades 9 thru 13, who show a need for financial aid, and who show an interest in agricultural practices. This in no way limits their pursuits to only agricultural endeavors. Many students communicate worthy goals (not unlike all high school students) of attending university, vocational skills training, and or higher income employment opportunities. However, everyone in the program remains in agreement that a fundamental agricultural education is necessary in Haitian society. The result is that students can rest assured that tuition will be paid until their completion of grade 13; at the same time remaining faithful to their family’s reliance on a healthy agricultural system.
Once a week, bursary students are required to attend an additional class, beyond their classical studies, facilitated by Planting Life Haiti. While this requirement keeps students accountable to their commitment for higher education; it offers a number of other value-added opportunities. The class starts with a devotional study from a passage in the Bible. This is important in remaining true to Planting Life Haiti’s mission to spread the Good News about Jesus. However, Weslet Vildort, who facilities the classes, explains that it also offers students the opportunities to engage in open discussions, ask questions, and reflect on challenging concepts; something that is not traditionally practiced in Haitian culture. Jesus is the Way. The remainder of the class is then spent studying agriculture.
Weslet, who holds a degree from the University of Fraser Valley focused in horticulture studies, provides lessons in agriculture and farming; ranging from basic fundamentals to advanced concepts. Due to deforestation, soil degradation, and drought, traditional Haitian farming practices are becoming more and more challenging in producing repeated quantities. Weslet has spent the last few years testing and practicing innovative solution in Haiti’s increasingly difficult climate. While Weslet continues to provide lessons in fundamental farming practices that every Haitian should know, he puts a particular emphasis on current challenges and innovative solutions. After every class, students travel to a nearby plot of land to practice the concepts learned; where they can observe what works and what needs improvement. In addition, students are exposed to some of Weslet’s own innovative solutions, like drip irrigation, and wholistic composting.
For many students and families in Haiti, education is too frequently a necessity they cannot afford. They know this, and they continue to pursue it anyways. Where there is a will, there is a way. Planting Life Haiti understands this Will, and offers a Way. Students, and their families, are incredibly grateful for the support. Everyone involved continues to have hope in a better quality of life for Haiti; and ‘hope does not disappoint’ (Rom 5:5).
For those wishing to get involved or donate, click ‘Here’ to contact Planting Life Haiti.
God Bless and Amen,
Planting Life Haiti.