Earlier this week, I left Haiti. The unrelenting poverty, the disease, the deep loss and suffering of its people, and the destruction still so present almost a year after the earthquake, was difficult to witness.
I was in Port-au-Prince last week to officially launch University of the People’s commitment to help rebuild Haiti. Over a three year period, UoPeople aims to provide tuition-free higher education to 250 Haitian students. I was privileged while in Haiti to meet the first 16 of our students.
I am so thankful for their warmth and hospitality, for being able to see their homes and gain a glimpse into their lives. Many of our students in Haiti, who graciously invited me into their homes, lost almost everything in the earthquake and now live in tents or temporary shelters, without running water and electricity. Their kitchen is a tin hut outdoors and some live without a bathroom.
Every one of our students turned to thank UoPeople for giving them hope for the future and providing them, their families and children with an opportunity to improve their lives. When I told them that the studies may prove to be too difficult for some of them, they looked me in the eyes and told me: “You do not understand; our lives depend on this. We have no future without education. To give up is not an option.”
Yet, it is I who should thank them, for their courage and determination, in the face of so much suffering. For them to be able to look to the future and focus on rebuilding their country is truly remarkable and inspirational. On a personal level, I must also thank our students for reminding me of why I established UoPeople– to provide universal access to higher education for those who face financial or geographic constraints.
To my new friends in Haiti: thank you again for allowing me into your lives and good luck with your studies! We are honored to have you join UoPeople!
Being in Haiti was hard. But all the reasons that make it hard- the poverty, illness, destruction and loss- are all the reasons why UoPeople is there. Our first 16 students have commenced their studies, but we need your help to reach many more.
Please donate to UoPeople and help our Haiti students. Together we can help bring higher education to Haiti.
Are you willing to help our students in Haiti?