By Craig Bramley, NHSI
Noe Jilles is from the Northern Haiti hilltop community of Dondon. He is a talented builder, leader, and is driven by the desire to help his people.
From 1998 through 2002, Noe worked in construction in South Florida. As a result of Noe’s exemplary construction skills and hard work, Noe was able to send money back to Haiti for his wife and four children. In 2002 Noe returned to the Dondon area of Haiti where he grew up. In the rural area of Laguille, which is located 3 to 4 miles from Dondon, Noe pursued his dream to build the community’s first church and school. There were several witch doctors, active in the practice of Voodoo inhabiting the hillsides. Noe’s strong motivation to return to this area was based on his desire to improve his community and raise the educational level of the children. In 2005, Noe started the process of acquiring land to build his church and school.
Noe travels from Cap Haitian (Haiti’s second largest city) to Laguille two to three times per week, sometimes in the darkness of night in his bare feet. Noe spends time in Cap Haitian in order to work and earn enough money to support his family. Joy and Hope of Haiti, a Canadian Charity, financed the construction of the Laguille school with Noe’s supervision of the construction efforts. Many of the 102 students, and some of the school’s teachers, walk as much one and a half hours each way to school. During the rainy seasons, impassable creeks and mudslides prevent the students from coming to school due to.
The Beginnings of the Northern Sustainability Haiti Initiative (NHSI)
In 2007, having known Noe my work with Joy and Hope of Haiti on other school construction projects, I wanted to witness firsthand Noe’s vision for his people. I traveled the 23 miles from Cap Haitian to Dondon by truck, and then an additional four miles through riverbeds and hills to the area referred to as Laguille on Noe’s motorbike. I was totally taken with the beauty of the land and the warmth of the people. Many of the farming techniques were the same that were a centuries ago. The simplicity of lifestyle was humbling. A close Canadian friend, Russ Demeny, and I started financing the acquisition of four acres that currently houses Noe’s church, eight room school and crops such as corn, beans, coffee, moringa, mango, and oranges.
NHSI strives to improve student performance based on the specific needs of each school and community. Due to the minimal economic means of the rural Haitians, NHSI is assisting the community with sustaining daily school operations, including teacher’s wages, food for daily lunches, books, and school supplies. NHSI also assists with teacher development and training, efficient school management, and resource accountability, setting the framework for long-term sustainability of each school.