The work of Friends of Borgne, Inc. consists of supporting education in Borgne, Haiti. It is a worthy endeavor because about 50% of primary school age children in Haiti aren’t enrolled in school. One-third of Haitian girls over the age of six never attend school. Many families in Haiti earn less in one year than the cost of school tuition. We share the goals of peace, justice, and mercy. It is our greatest hope that these students will help their country have the kind of government and services that these beautiful people so richly deserve.
This year Friends of Borgne (FOB) is sponsoring over 40 primary and secondary children from the town of Borgne, selected by their neighbors because of their families‘ need. Our sponsorship consists of tuition, books, uniforms, shoes, and backpacks. Each student is also provided with a nourishing meal each day. Friends of Borgne also gives tuition scholarships to 25 children who live in rural areas outside of Borgne. In the past, help has been given in the form of partial tuition, uniforms, books, and shoes for other members of the community experiencing urgent school needs.
In addition to the scholarships, FOB was instrumental in reopening the Wesleyan School in Borgne that had been closed for three years by paying the salaries of 6 teachers and a director. This made it possible for the school to reopen and also for students to pay reduced tuition ($6 per year instead of $40.)This enables over 100 more students to go to school.
FOB send funds for the construction of Petite Riviere School in 2012 at the request of the community and teachers (who agreed to work without salary if we could help them to build the school). The students used to have to walk more than two hours to school and make dangerous river crossings. One student drowned. Once the school was built (the teachers worked for no money during that time), we began to pay for 7 teachers and a director for that school as well, thus enabling another 100 +/- children to get an education at a much reduced cost.
In 2016, the best middle school in Borgne was going to close because of lack of funds – Frere Andre Catholic Middle School. Thanks to three very generous people from Spiritus providing $8000 to bridge the budget gap, that school is still open and flourishing.
The Band Program is a joy to Borgne. FOB gathered musical instruments from the Honeoye Falls and Rochester area and got them into excellent condition. They were hand-carried to Borgne by FOB member Sarah Brownell and her students from RIT. The Scouts in Borgne were the ones who advocated for this program. When the instruments arrived, the entire town gathered in front of the church where the instruments were displayed. The priest blessed the instruments , speeches were given and everyone was so happy that Borgne would finally have a band. FOB paid for music teachers to come from Cap Haitian. Within less than 5 months, the students could play their instruments and play together! This program is now in the third generation using the “each one, teach one” model. The group plays for all celebrations, weddings, funerals and they even earn money some of the time. They just celebrated an anniversary of the band. It is still an ongoing treasure!
The Sewing Center was established to provide vocational education. In 2016 it trained its third class of students. A grant from The Naples Council on World Affairs of $5000 in 2011 enabled the purchase of 10 treadle sewing machines which are still in excellent condition, covered with tarps when the roof has blown off a couple of times. FOB pays for sewing teacher salaries and supplies. The “graduates” will be helping to make the uniforms for the students when they return to school in September,.. They also made the awesome uniforms for the band! This past year, the sewing program was discontinued because our program director was in prison. He was found completely innocent after a year. It was tough to keep things going without him, but he helped his grown son take care of many things. The sewing machines are in need of repair and we are hoping to get that program up and running again very soon.
Another wonderful initiative is the Traveling Librarian. He rides a donkey from school to school bringing beautifully illustrated books in Kreyol. He stays overnight so the children can take the books home. They have taken excellent care of the books. FOB was able to add to the library in 2016 thanks to a grant from the Dorothea Haus Ross Foundation. He first started using a horse. The horse died. Then a donor provided funds and he got a donkey which was great because the donkey enabled him to get to even more remote areas with his beautiful books. Sadly, we got word recently that the donkey fell and died. We will get another so this program can continue! “Behind the mountains, there are more mountains!”
In addition to the books from the Dorothea Haus Ross Foundation, FOB was able to purchase 10 laptop computers which were loaded with software in French thanks to Joel Lissade and other board members, and delivered by RIT students to Borgne. FOB has paid for computer instruction. There is a high demand for computer skills and internet access (which they don’t have yet). FOB would like to get satellite internet, but it is costly — a goal. It will open up the world and also provide information for teachers.
The newest program, the Pig Husbandry Program, is off to a start thanks to a tithe specifically for this from St. John of Rochester. The money will provide the purchase of piglets and training for the students who will be raising them. The agreement is that when a student’s pig has a litter, (s)he will give one piglet to another student thus keeping the program going. We have had to put this program on hold for this year, but we are trying to get it up and running as soon as possible.
FOB rents a Foundation Building which is the hub of the activities. The sewing machines, the computers, the music lessons, a television set, and a generator are all there. It is also where the children on scholarship have their meal each day and return after school for tutoring and visiting. It is a gathering place for meetings as well. We had to send money for repairs. Hurricanes and flooding take their toll in Borgne. Unexpected expenses arise from time to time.
Looking back over the years, FOB has also helped with other short term projects.
- After the earthquake, FOB helped 600 children to finish their school year.
- When cholera became a problem, FOB paid for megaphones and people to drive around warning people to boil their water.
- Scholarship students took a field trip to the Dominican Republic which was very exciting. Most had never been on a bus before and none had been to another country.
- It seems as if there are always weather related repairs needed. FOB has paid for many roof repairs needed after hurricanes.
The people in Borgne who make this all happen are truly heroic. They keep going in spite of continuous problems. “We pray for them. They pray for us. We love each other. We are so privileged to have this opportunity to make a difference.”
SOURCES OF FUNDING
Friends of Borgne’s sources of funding are grassroots! Judy Conley, Sue Whalen and Joan Haviland send letters each August to everyone in their address books telling them about this opportunity to help the poorest of the poor. Our board members are most generous as are their friends and families. In the past, we have received small grants from The Dorothea Haus Ross Foundation ($3095) and also from the Daisy Marquis Jones Foundation ($3000 – thanks to Spiritus parishioner Roger Gardner who as past director can give a grant to a nonprofit of his choice).
We have received tithes from St. John of Rochester and Spiritus Christi. FOB members working in conjunction with Honeoye Falls/Borgne Sister Cities which they helped to establish have had three fundraising events — an ornament sale, a Pasta Buffet, a Mardi Gras carnival and a “Beyond Brunch for Borgne”. Each of these events has raised some funds, but they also raised the consciousness of so many about Borgne.
ANNUAL BUDGET/FINANCIAL STATEMENT
FOB doesn’t have an annual budget as such because we never know how much will be donated. Rather, we have priorities.
- Scholarships for the poorest of the poor
- Food for the scholarship students
- School teacher/director salaries
- Band/Computer/Sewing/ and Animal Husbandry program