Cite Soleil is the largest ghetto in Haiti, and has been affected by political and gang violence for over a decade. Young people in Cite Soleil deal with inter-neighborhood divisions, a stigma that paints them as future criminals, and under-investment in community services. There are few places for young people from different neighborhoods to come together outside of school to learn; there is no community library, which is a symbol of the lack of investment in the future of Cite Soleil's youth.
A community-led effort to build a library in the heart of Cite Soleil is important several ways: on a practical level, it provides an accessible, neutral space for young people to further their studies, have educational discussions, and learn research and computer skills. It also encourages inter-neighborhood friendships. On a symbolic level, the community is claiming space to promote nonviolence and education; the process itself brings neighborhoods together around a common vision of education.
This project will help to shift perceptions inside and outside of Cite Soleil: Young people in Cite Soleil will see the value their community places in education, which will encourage them to stay in school (along with the practical support services the library provides). A prominent community-supported library will also challenge external stigma about Cite Soleil. All of this will help promote social integration, empowerment, and future employment for Cite Soleil's youth.
This project has provided additional documentation in a PDF file (projdoc.pdf).
A description of the origins of this initiative