Special to The Haitian Times

People from all over the world are virtually ‘hiking’ a mountain in solidarity with students and families in Haiti through Hope for Haiti’s latest campaign: the Hike for Haiti Challenge. This month-long initiative is supported by ambassadors with authentic Haitian ties like Carel Pedre, Jozy Altidore and Karen Civil, and to date has raised over $90,000 to support the organization’s public health and education programs. 

The path to education can be long and difficult in Haiti. Students face many challenges, including school fees, a lack of infrastructure, or no secondary school available to attend. There are physical ones as well: Roseline must trek the equivalent of 200 flights of stairs daily just to get to her school in the rural mountain community of Marre à Coiffe. Readers in New York City know a six floor walk up to an apartment can take your breath away, so it’s hard to imagine what climbing an additional 194 flights would be like. 

The journey that children like Roseline take in Marre à Coiffe speaks to the community’s dedication to education, along with a spirit of deep resilience. These students inspire us all with their ability to overcome numerous challenges, including Hurricane Matthew, which destroyed their school in October 2016, and the “peyi lok” which brought Haiti close to a humanitarian crisis in 2019. The parents there share this commitment. It takes one person eight hours to carry a single bag of cement up the mountain to the new school site in Marre à Coiffe, a community with no automobile access. The parents and families of Marre à Coiffe carried 350 bags of cement and tons of construction materials up the mountain to contribute to the construction of the school and improve the quality of education for their children.

Marre à Coiffe is a shining example of Haiti’s resilience; a country that does not back down in the face of hardship and instead works to build a better, stronger future. We are challenging people to go the same distance that the students of Marre à Coiffe undertake daily to access basic necessities. The campaign runs through May 17. 

In their honor, funds raised from the Hike for Haiti Challenge will provide Hope for Haiti’s 24 partner communities with critical public health programming through the organization’s COVID-19 Action Plan, as well as education initiatives to help students like Roseline succeed. As the world faces the COVID-19 pandemic, the critical role that education plays in healthcare and poverty reduction is more clear than ever. 

As activities resume in the US, girls like Roseline will still be hiking an unreasonable distance to access an education in Haiti. This is one small thing we can do to show they are not forgotten.

For more information, click here.

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