Impacters

Education + Agriculture: Discover an Innovative School in Haiti

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In the mountains of rural southwest Haiti is a town known by few, with a school gradually becoming known by many –The BATI School.

The school stands out for its a) innovative model –  free education meeting U.S. curricular standards offered through a sustainable farm-funded financial design, and b) creative logo – a large pencil adjacent to the school’s entrance atop a mountain overlooking a picturesque view of the country’s coast.

 Co-founders take ownership…

As Haitian-American immigrants, the school’s co-founders, Rubens Amedee and Freddie Amedee-Benjamin, first imagined the concept of Building Ayiti To Inspire (BATI) shortly after their trip to Haiti during the spring of 2010. The story began as these two, brother and sister, visited their home country to provide aid to their fellow Haitians following the country’s historic earthquake. A series of attempts to join other non-profit organizations quickly led to the decision to start their own.

“Right away, we knew if we wanted to promote a sustainable change we would have to do it ourselves,” says Freddie, reflecting on her experience with the non-profits she encountered.

And what better place to start than their family’s original hometown?

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…and launch The BATI School

Five years and several thousand dollars in private contributions later, The BATI School will open its doors to students this fall.

“We were anticipating around 90 students this fall, but we’ve received requests for education from nearly 400 students!” says Rubens, discussing the buzz around town that the ‘school on the mountain’ is just about ready for students.

The school will launch its one-year assessment program for all ages and genders in October 2015. In preparation, the co-founders and board members have been working to coordinate construction, publicity, and funding in both Haiti and the US. Some of these steps have proven more challenging than one would think, particularly in the school’s construction, given it’s locatation atop a mountain in rural Miragoane, Haiti (a small town 51 miles southwest from the nation’s capital in Port-au-Prince).

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The school turns into a business…

In an effort to develop a ‘sustainable’ education model, The BATI School will fund itself through the sale of organic agricultural products grown on the fertile, surrounding farm-land. This model will be supplemented by a time commitment from our students’ parents (i.e., a ‘parents’ pledge’), which asks families to engage in their children’s activities through regular service on the campus, the farm, and in the local community.

Over the years, the school has quickly turned into a full-fledged business and community revitalization plan. The BATI School, a 501(c)(3) non-profit entity, now employs eight full-time personnel with many independent contractors regularly hired as farm hands and construction workers. On campus is a plant nursery where new products are regularly tested by the full-time local agronomist, Pierre Lelievre. Products successfully tested include coffee, sugar, peppers, mangoes, cucumbers, castor oil, and more.

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…and more doors open

Significant growth, both literally and symbolically, has led to the launch of a for-profit sister company called Papa Rozier’s Farms. The company is named after the co-founders’ grandfather, the man whose land they acquired to build the school, and will soon offer organic products for international distribution.

But that’s not all!

The school offers trips to Haiti for readers like you! The team at BATI invites you to join us and see the impact you can have firsthand! The trip is an all-inclusive, five-day stay where work on the farm and relaxation on the coast are gracefully intertwined – a socially conscious way to enjoy your next vacation.

All you need to do is contact the team at BATI, book your flight, and prepare for a life changing experience.

Readers can contact us and follow us @BATISchool on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.