Hand in Hand for Haiti
Size: 50-150 employees
Location: St-Marc, Haiti
Investment: Charitable giving (comparable to $1,000-$5,000 per month)
Hand in Hand for Haiti operates the Lycée Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable school in St-Marc to provide children with a free and stellar education. While the school recognizes that technology in the classroom is a priority, they found themselves in the dark in 2014: they had no access to the internet. Without wifi, students, as well as expat teachers, remained disconnected from the world. There was no way to access educational applications or to contact family back home. It was going to take a labor of love to bring the school back online.
The Story of Hand in Hand for Haiti
Hand in Hand for Haiti provides life-changing opportunities for youth in Haiti to break the cycle of poverty and to contribute to a sustainable and financially-independent future. Through the Lycée Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable school, Hand in Hand offers the highest quality education for free. 100% of the program is supported by donations. At full capacity, the Pre K through 12 school teaches 720 students.
The school’s modern teaching methods ensure that their students receive an education of excellence, open to the world but rooted in Haitian culture. The organization knows how important technology is in the classroom. The school curriculum also emphasizes the importance of long-term sustainability, environmental responsibility and civic responsibility.
JS Tech’s founder first became aware of the Lycée Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable school in Haiti in 2014, while developing an iPad application for distance learning among students. One of the school’s founders volunteered to test the app, but was met with a pretty big obstacle: the school had no internet connection.
On an exploratory mission in February 2015, engineers discovered that internet service provider Digitel had created a rudimentary campus network that had fallen into disrepair. Nearly all of the repeaters placed by the ISP were non-functional, so most of the 30+ acre campus went without wifi.
Without wifi, students were falling into the digital divide; they couldn’t access information, educational applications, or even a means to connect with others.
For the staff, internet access meant something else. Nearly 50% of the school’s teachers are expats; wifi was vital for staying in contact with family and friends in other countries. If the school wanted to attract top talent, they needed to ensure that teachers would have reliable IT.
Massive equipment and time donations made it possible to construct a sustainable data network at the school. Point-to-point radios from Ubiquiti Networks, pre-terminated fiber cables, and CAT5e ethernet created a resilient network to deliver high-speed internet access to the campus’s 22 buildings. Vendors such as Tripp-Lite, Sophos, and Zyxel donated various networking equipment and software to the project. A team of industry volunteers came together to offer time and labor.
Not only did this team build a reliable data network, they continue to return to the school to maintain it. The network supports a variety of pedagogical applications, including smart boards, distance learning, and electronic labs. The young students are better connected to their world, and benefit from global lessons and influence.
The Lycée Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable school now has the capabilities required to educate the students of Haiti. The digital divide is a big part of education inequality. When students don’t have access to the internet, they lose access to information, applications, and connection. With reliable wifi, students have gained a leg up in receiving an equitable education.