Author Archives: Doug Albertson

Mission Statement

Opportunities for Communities, Inc.

 Mission Statement

Direct Involvement in Community Education

OfC provides educational opportunities for several communities.  These communities are:

1.  Students of all ages, mainly from our home area of New England and New York are OfC’s primary students.  These are often college and university students, but are also high school students and adults.  Retirees are welcome.

2.  Students in our host communities, mainly in Haiti.  These are mostly children enrolled in schools, but we consider the greater host communities we interact with to also be learners.

3.  The support community at home – these are the adults who support and assist OfC in developing and implementing its programs.  They participate in our programs, support our students, and contribute funding, expertise and services.

OfC’s approach is to involve each community in the educational experience of the others.  We develop and implement courses for our primary students that directly involve them in the host communities.  We also incorporate the support community into our educational program by soliciting expertise from them and by sharing our planning and experiences with them.

OfC develops programs in our host communities that can be sustained by the host communities.  To OfC, that is the definition of sustainable development:

planned activities that enhance the capabilities of communities or groups of individuals to independently support themselves.  While sustainable development projects are initially dependent on outside support, the goal of these projects is for target communities to assume full responsibility for operation, including generating operating revenues, training managers, and sustaining the projects’ benefits to the host community.

OfC’s mission includes collaboration with educational and charitable institutions including universities, colleges, scientific and social research organizations, non-profit charitable and development organizations, and faith-based groups, such as churches.  OfC works to promote cross-cultural friendship and the integration of disparate communities.

 

 

 

OfC Classrooms & Dormitory

In April 2009 OfC obtained a plot of agricultural land in the village of Bellabe in order to support our educational programs, including an Agricultural Demonstration Center (ADC).  Although the ADC has not been a primary focus (with only pigeon peas planted), future uses of this land include researching and testing alternative methods for maintaining soil health; and identifying and testing alternative crops than have traditionally been raised in this village, ultimately to enhance the nutritional value and yield of crops raised in this area.

A small house was built in 2009, with a bathroom and running water.  A well was also dug.  Over time a second floor has been added, a second bathroom (outhouse with running water) has been built and improvements to the well have been completed (cement apron and metal door).  In June 2010 classrooms were constructed with metal doors.  These have been used as classrooms, dormitory-style accommodations, and kitchen.

 

workingonthehousethehouse
ofc property 2009 ofc house-classrooms 2011

Institution Miscte Maranatha (Restavek school)

The Institution Miscte Maranatha was begun in 1998 by Headmaster Amos Filius in the Simon haiti jan 2010 188neighborhood of Les Cayes.  The school allows Restavek children to attend class in the afternoons, after the regular school day.

OfC’s initial introduction and discussions began in the fall of 2008.  Timothe Indrik deliver OfC’s first contribution of $200 in February 2009, enabling a new teacher to be hired for the remaining school year and allowing the 3rd & 4th grade to be split into 2 classes.  In June 2009 the kitchen was renovated and proprane was introduced.  In 2011, 200 Haitian students were served in summer school  (Lekol Dete).

OfC is currently supporting 2 teachers (sewing and music) $50 for each teacher/month.

If you are interested in learning more about sponsoring some portion of this effort, please contact us!

 

Restavek children are indentured servants, children without parents or abandoned by their parents who are allowed to stay with other families in exchange for labor such as cooking, cleaning and childcare.  See: Restavek

Bellabe Village

OfC’s home in Haiti is a beautiful village of about 250 residents who have accepted us as honorary citizens.  Every time we return we are welcomed as friends. The children especially love to be with our younger students.  We employ a young man from the village as our property manager. It is our priority to establish and invest in a sustained relationship with this community so they see us as dependable partners and for our students to be welcomed. We have also helped to facilitate stronger relationships between the villagers and the new rice mill.
ofc honorary bellabeiansIn January 2010, the Bellabe Development Committee of the Village Council welcomed the OfC faculty/students/participants to Bellabe and in Feburary the Surprise de Bellabe soccer team was formed.

In June the first Micro-credit/loan program was established – all loans have been repaid.
o   Project Omega:  Basket-weaver
o   Kafé Roseline:  Coffee roaster
OfC provided a microloan to Roseline to start a coffee-roasting business.  Haitians love coffee, traditionally prepared over a charcoal or wood-fire and in the final stages mixed with a small amount of sugar to enhance the flavor.  Roseline needed money to invest in tools (pots, scale, grinder, bags), obtain the raw beans and fuel, and pay for transportation to/from the markets where she buys raw beans and sells the finished coffee.
o   Bellabe Cement Blocks Program

OfC is currently supporting the ODB and Village Council so that all Bellabe village children can attend school – 100% were enrolled for 2011-2012 school year. Most families will not be able to repay with money, but will instead commit to some kind of repayment plan –  which could be to OfC’s property (planting crops, trees or building a fence, making repairs, etc.) or to the community.

Lafresiliere Community School

lafres studentsIn June 2010 OfC made a commitment to help the Lafresilière Community School get back on its feet.  Construction of the school was started in 2000 by Maitre Jean, but never has been finished.  Enrollment dwindled to just over 50 students due to the extreme poverty of this community, as tuition ($1 per child per month) is too expensive for most families. In return for OfC’s support of the school, the community is involved in maintaining the building and grounds.   During the 2010-2011 school year, OfC sponsored all teachers and covered their salary ($4,000).  Enrollment grew to over 120 students and every grade has its own teacher.  We built and provided blackboards to replace the crumbling particle board shared by multiple classes and built a latrine (the school had no toilet facilities).  We have continued to support school building construction. Walls and floors have been completed – each grade now has it’s own room – and a door was installed making it possible for the school to participate in a free-food program.

Meet Timothe Indrik

timothe indrik-web
              Video
OfC partner Timothe Indrik speaks about his image for OfC

OfC would not have so many courses and projects running in Haiti without our extraordinary Haitian partner, Mr. Timothé Indrik.  Timothé’s intelligence, leadership and organizational skills, infectious smile and love for all people make him the heart and soul of OfC’s Haitian program!
Timothé was born in Les Cayes, Haiti, to very poor parents who could not afford to send their 10 children to school.  Timothé, though, loved to go to church, and when he was 9 years old, a woman visiting his Sunday School class asked if he would like to go to school – he enthusiastically answered, “YES!” Soon Timothé was on his way to kindergarten.  He completed primary and secondary school at the Baptist Mission Schools in Simon, the neighborhood in Les Cayes where he was born.

Timothé recently explained how he became so involved with his community and especially the children:

I felt so blessed and wanted to give a response to God for what he had done for my life.  Now I feel called to return home and serve my people and my communities through a retreat center and with other projects.  I give thanks to God who made it possible for us to meet and build that great network which is called ‘OPPORTUNITIES for COMMUNITIES,’ which has already done a lot for my people and my communities. Thank you so much and I really feel blessed through our friendship and partnership.
Thank you.

Tim and sonIn addition to working for OfC, Timothé has more than 15 years’ experience in organizing youth sports programs at the community, national, and international level.  For the last 10 years, Timothe served as Haiti’s representative to the International Sports
Coalition, and participated in exchange programs in Thailand, France and several Caribbean countries.  He has two beautiful children, Edilson, 18 (pictured), and Jessenia, 16.