BLB has exciting endeavors in progress to bring our children, staff and facilities to the next level of growth and performance.
First, our focus is to continually provide enriching opportunities for the children and staff to learn, grow and evolve. Secondly, we are constantly focused on finding ways to allow BLB to be self-sustainable operationally and environmentally. And, thirdly, we remain committed to caring for and empowering our neighbors who are in need.
In an exciting, developing partnership with the Yunus Centre for Social Business at Becker College and our long-time friend Dr. Debra Pallatto-Fontaine who is the Professional Development Advisor and Facilitator at Be Like Brit, we have enrolled 11 of our employees in Haiti who are in leadership positions at BLB in the Dreams Program: Educating the Future Leaders of Haiti. Piloted in the fall of 2016, delayed by the events around Hurricane Matthew, this program aims to develop in our higher-ranking staff the skills necessary to achieve greatness and to model it for our children, too! We see potential growth in this area as funding streams open up and donor interest is garnered. To learn more about this program, please email Dr. Debra Pallatto-Fontaine at Debbie@BeLikeBrit.org
In January of 2017, we brought our first full-time Haiti employee, Peterson Exilas, to the United States. Under a new professional development training and exchange, we’ll be bringing our Haitian staff in the USA to learn more about the organization’s responsibilities and operations in the United States, so that they may more effectively perform their functions in Haiti in their respective positions in the organization. We are excited to see this program develop and grow as we create new opportunities for our staff!
As of the start of 2017, all of the children at Brit’s Home in Haiti, as well as dozens of our employees, have been enrolled in formal English as a Second Language classes. With the addition of six classes and the evaluation and determining of appropriate levels, our ESL program is in full swing. As we work to extend real-life experiences to our children, we’re creating and developing a virtual, cultural-exchange program for our children, connecting with volunteers and former Britsionarys across the world through our high-speed internet and the use of our ABC Mouse computers and our Surtab Mobile Classroom Android Tablets, which were purchased with a generous grant from the Schwartz Foundation. We hope to open up a whole new world – quite literally – to our children and staff at Brit’s Home in Haiti! Stay tuned for more information.
When possible, we’ve invited Haitian friends we’ve made along the way to come speak to our children about their own personal stories. This year, we hope to formalize this with the launch of an official Speaker Series – bringing success stories and real-life examples of triumph over adversity to our children and our staff at Brit’s Home in Haiti. We want our children to know that anything is possible in life, and that a whole world of opportunity exists for them, even in the face of hardships and challenges. We hope to motivate and inspire with this program, and highlight examples that rise above the idea that Haiti is “the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere”, a tagline that seems almost automatic when invoking the word Haiti. We believe we have a social responsibility to change that narrative that overshadows the successes of Haiti; through our Speaker Series, we believe we can change the negative portrayal of Haiti as a whole.
The Be Like Brit Academy was launched as a pilot program in the fall of 2016 to provide specialized education for several of our children with educational, behavioral, emotional, and learning needs. BLB has hired two certified teachers and launched a curriculum to meet those needs. We’ve seen huge improvements across the board in these children in a relatively short period of time. It is our goal to bring our educational program to more of our own children at BLB.
After almost two years of construction, the 100,000 gallon cistern and Field of Hope projects were completed in the fall of 2016. With the installation of a secondary well and the construction of drainage swales to carry the water to our cistern, this year we will complete Phase 3 of the project – the installation of a comprehensive irrigation and sprinkler system to water our 1.5 acres of gardens and fruit trees around our property at Brit’s Home in Haiti. This cistern and the drainage swale systems serves another function, too, in that it will help in the serious problem of environmental degradation through erosion – a problem that threatens so many here in Haiti.
Our internal medical clinic, a 1150 square foot facility, has seen significant growth and expansion in terms of services since our official opening in 2013. We have exciting plans on the horizon for the BLB Clinic in 2017, including exploratory trips with potential partners scheduled for the year, and the development of a strategic plan to expand the scope of our services beyond our own walls and community. With the designation of the Field of Hope as a pre-designated landing zone for the Haiti Air Ambulance services, we now can offer emergency evacuation from Grand Goâve by air. We are also looking at formalizing relationships with other non-profit organizations already operating in Haiti, offering monthly pediatric clinics to our community and beyond.