It is hard to believe that we have recently had our one-year anniversary with GlobalGiving. We are very thankful for all GG has done, for your support and the help of countless others to facilitate the growth and development of our project. In this update, I’d like to present some of our achievements over the past year and to preview an anticipated expansion of this project for our second year of partnering with GlobalGiving.
In June of last year, we saw hope in a time of uncertainty. Our project helped students and staff rebound a bit after the effect of Haiti’s devastating earthquake. Our project offered a positive distraction and a future of hope during the daunting task of earthquake recovery in Haiti.
During the summer of 2010, volunteers went to Haiti to construct and paint the computer room at Les Bons Samartians that would be used to house the laptops from our project. As the summer progressed, our project was the focus of a Central Pennsylvania local morning radio show. For an hour, our students were interviewed about the good things our project was accomplishing and the future potential of our project.
During the fall of 2010, the computer room at Les Bons Samaritains was outfitted with Classmate PC computers along with a classroom interactive white board. On GlobalGiving we were selected out of the nearly 3,000 projects hosted by GlobalGiving for their “Project of the Month” club for our project’s “high impact and innovative effects”. Our project started to grow in popularity on the Internet receiving nearly 500 new hits a month on our Palmyra-Haiti Pilot Wikispaces account. We were featured as one of the “Best of the Best” Glogs on the GlogsterEdu site as well.
During the winter of 2010-2011, our Palmyra-Haiti wiki club remembered the one-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Our club, consisting of student and teacher volunteers within the Palmyra Area School District, continued to build a learning and collaboration platform on our wiki. The club also raised funds for this project and humanitarian aid for Haiti. The club gave our Palmyra students a taste of what it is like to run a non-profit organization. Industry professionals from the central Pennsylvania area gave their time and talent to our project in areas of marketing, web design, video production and more to help our project grow. We continue to be grateful for the generous support of our volunteers.
In the spring of 2011, our club posted a variety of YouTube videos to market our project to a larger audience and to capture the flavor of how this project may impact the people of Haiti. One of those videos can be seen on the links below. We also created a Facebook page for our project to help expand our reach. That link can be found below as well.
We ended the combined school years of Palmyra and Les Bons Samaritans with a touching Skype exchange between our students, which is noted in more detail on our previous update. We have grown our wiki popularity on the web from nearly 500 new hits per month in the fall to nearly 3000 new hits in June. In addition, Intel has generously kicked off a dollar for dollar matching campaign for our project, which continues as I write this update.
In a later update, I will expand on the future potential of our project but I would like to highlight one important, anticipated event that will be happening this fall. Les Bons Samaritains has been so successful that a secondary school has been built and will be opening this fall. The James Stine College (link below) will continue the great work started at Les Bons Samaritains. Our project has raised enough funds to start a computer room at the James Stine College and we hope to move forward with it in the coming months.
I would like to conclude this anniversary update with a few notable quotes from the year.
“Nice work. We need all the humanitarians we can get.”
~Johnny Colt, CNN iReporter and The Black Crowes guitarist.
“This is the best idea”
~Lisa Landis, WJTL morning host
“Nous sommes tous heureuses pour les ordinateurs et pour ce projet.”
“We are all happy for the computers and for this project.”
~Johnson, Cirius, Carmelle, Nadia, Fédeline, Chriscy, & Dieula
“I’d just like to say thank you to everyone involved in the project for making this a life-changing experience for me- and I hope that through this I’ve made a difference in others’ lives, too. “
“Through my communication with the people of Haiti, my respect for them has grown and my appreciation for the life I live has been prevalent. These lessons are extremely important for my future and this amazing project is helping me to develop them now."
As you can see by these quotes and by this anniversary update, your donations are making a deep and lasting, student-driven, impact. I would urge you to consider making an additional donation today of any amount during Intel’s dollar for dollar matching campaign for our project. Together, we can expand and sustain the accomplishments of this past school year and build for the future.
Since the beginning of our technology collaborative, Skype has played an important role. In 2009, we successfully conducted our first Skype conference between the Les Bons Samaritains School in Haiti and the Palmyra Middle School in Pennsylvania. I was in Haiti during that first Skype conference and witnessed the exuberance in the exchange between the Haitian students and my students back in Pennsylvania. At that moment we realized the cultural awareness and educational potential of this communication medium.
A few weeks later, the students of Les Bons Samamritains Skyped my students in Palmyra to show us the Haitian custom of Carnival, a Mardi Gras like celebration. Our Palmyra students were given a live glimpse into a world that they would not have known otherwise. A connection with a lasting impression was made. You can view a video showing Carnival at LBS through one of the links in this update.
As our program continued to grow and develop, our Skype experience continued as well. During one of our Skype™ sessions, we gathered over 100 of our Palmyra Middle School students in an auditorium to Skype with Les Bons Samaritians. During this session, we exchanged ideas about our program and sang traditional songs to each other. It was a touching experience that brought two cultures closely together. This conference can be viewed through one of the links in this update.
Recently, we had another notable Skype experience. During the fall of our school year, we were fortunate enough to have a Haitian student enroll in our school. Laurie was born and raised in Haiti. She speaks Creole and French fluently and has been learning English since she has been with us. She participated in our most recent Skype with Les Bons Samaritains students and was able to give them perspective on what life is like as a Haitian student in an American school. This conference can be viewed from one of the links in this update.
Thanks to your support, you have made these great experiences possible. Through your continued financial support, we can change lives in the dramatic way that is only available through education and the opportunities it provides.
June provides two exciting opportunities for increased funding for our project!
On Wednesday, June 15th, you have an opportunity to stretch your donation to our project through a GlobalGiving matching offer. Starting at 12:01 am EDT, GlobalGiving will match any donation of $1000 or less to our project by 30% until their matching fund pool of $75,000 runs out. Please make a note of this and donate early this day.
In addition, GlobalGiving’s Technology for Education Fund is contributing to classroom technology projects like ours! Throughout the entire month of June, a matching funds campaign is in effect that will match donations to the Tech for Education fund which supports our project!
As always, thank you for your continued support! I have seen first hand the lives that have been changed by your generosity!
Recently, our Palmyra students were honored to have Dr. Rodrigue Mortel share his life story with us. Our students were inspired by his talk and had an opportunity to interview him. The interview can be viewed from the link on this update.
Dr. Mortel is the founder of Les Bons Samaritains School in Haiti through which your generous support is providing state of the art technology for the school’s students. Dr. Mortel himself was born into abject poverty in Haiti. As a boy, his family was evicted from their tiny home because they could not afford the $4 monthly rent. Dr. Mortel’s mother told him that this indignity would never have happened if she had had an education.
Inspired by the words of his mother, he diligently overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles to become a renowned surgeon, educator, scientist and humanitarian. He received his medical degree in Port-au-Prince and started his medical career in Haiti. From Haiti he practiced medicine in Montreal then moved to Philadelphia where he practiced at Hahnemann Hospital before moving on to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. From New York, he studied at the University of Paris and did medical research at Ligue National Francaise Contre le Cancer. He later settled in Hershey, Pennsylvania where he was a professor, cancer surgeon and researcher at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center. He became the first African-American, foreign educated department chair of a United States medical school. He became a national leader and contributor to his field on many levels throughout his career. In 1985, he received the prestigious and acclaimed Horatio Alger award.
While his medical expertise and accomplishments have touched and saved many lives, we believe his greatest accomplishment has been in the love, dedication and support he has given to the people of his native country. After building a home for his mother, Dr. Mortel endeavored to educate the poorest of the poor in St. Marc and the surrounding area by building Les Bons Samaritains School.
Dr. Mortel’s mother inspired him to accomplish great things and to make an indelible mark on the world. His contagious philanthropic spirit has inspired many to help bring his vision of educating the poorest of the poor to fruition. Our project has and continues to be inspired by his example. It is hard to imagine the powerful and boundless effect of a mother’s love. As Mother’s Day approaches, please consider honoring your mother or a special woman in your life through a donation to this project. Join us as we join Dr. Mortel in making a life changing difference in the lives of these Haitian children.