February 2020

 

THE NEW ACADEMIC YEAR

After the late 2019 “peyi lok,” (country lock down), UNIF opened its doors for this semester in early December. We welcomed 82 currently enrolled students, plus 24 new students. As Haiti’s only rural institution of higher learning, the sons and daughters of Haiti’s rural families feel fortunate to have the opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills to rebuild their own lives, and their own country, themselves.

UNIF offers four-five year programs in three disciplines – Agronomy, Veterinary Medicine, and Business Management. To one day have these three disciplines represented in every single rural sector of Haiti … THIS is UNIF’s long-term dream. With your continued partnership, it can happen.

New student orientation

UNIF OFFERS MORE THAN JUST ACADEMIC STUDY

In February 2020, UNIF students packed an overflowing classroom to hear from Mme Georgette Jean-Louis.

     

Mme Jean-Louis is a daughter of an inspiring and driven entrepreneur mother from rural Haiti determined to see all her children were highly educated. Mme Jean-Louis rose to become Director General and Board Member of the Central Bank of the Republic of Haiti (BRH). She also served as COO as Sèvis Finansye Fonkoze for many years, and as an auditor at Mérové-Pierre Cabinet-d’Experts Comptables.

Mme Jean-Louis presented on two subjects. First, she spoke to the business school students on the Haitian Central Bank’s loan program to small Haitian farmers, and then she spoke to the entire student body about her journey from a daughter of a communal section of rural Haiti to holding one of the highest positions in the country.

Needless to say, UNIF students were engrossed and inspired by Mme Jean-Louis, and especially by her astounding story of success and service.

In addition to providing motivational guest speakers for students, UNIF is growing its capacity to undertake research to benefit the rural sectors of Haiti. For several months, UNIF has been conducting a diagnostic study of the rural sector of Fondwa. Currently, the data is being analyzed by UNIF professors and consultants. This diagnostic will not only be valuable to the community of Fondwa, but will speak to the sustainable development of the entire country. To quote from the Conceptual Framework written by UNIF executive committee members,

“UNIF seeks to be the standard-bearer in the country for local development by following a participatory process of local initiatives as a motor for economic and social development. Local development must confront the following three key principles: responds to the needs of the population in order to help them become active and responsible; ensure a social and economic development at the local level; and instill the fight against poverty and inequality into all local actions.”

UNIF has confirmed a “Day of Research” on May 29, 2020. This will include both a few select panel presentations as well as many poster expositions of student and professor’s research. The hope is to have at least two international universities participating – with Brazil and Cuba already confirmed. More on this later.

Photo: © Maxence Bradley

DID YOU KNOW?

In our e-news offerings, we will begin adding a section called DID YOU KNOW. This section will, hopefully, provide tidbits of information about life in rural Haiti, the history of Haiti and UNIF, our thoughts on the future of Haiti, etc. On alternate months, we will provide PROFILES on students and professors.

Sooo…

DID YOU KNOW …

One of the most marginalized groups in Haiti is its rural poor. In rural Haiti (close to 50% of the population of Haiti), there are no social or government services, sparse law enforcement, no infrastructure, and few schools. Those born in the rural areas are known as “peasants.” Discrimination against them is rampant, enhancing a historical gap between those who live in the larger cities and those who make their lives in the countryside.

Stereotypes against peasants are extreme – they are treated as backwards, uneducated, and unable to lead themselves. Like all stereotypes, however, this is not reality.

UNIF was founded in 2004 not just by Father Joseph, but by several peasant members of Asosyasyon Peyizan Fondwa (APF), and in collaboration with partners in the US and Cuba. UNIF was the product born after reflective workshops in 2001 including these groups and Haitian peasants from Fondwa.

As a result, UNIF is the first and only rural university in Haiti. UNIF is not just about the students we empower – it is also a symbol for Haiti as a whole, and most specifically for the rural poor. UNIF is a symbol of dignity and hope for the forgotten rural sectors of Haiti.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

You can SPONSOR A STUDENT from rural Haiti to attend UNIF. You can DONATE to the operation of UNIF. You can VOLUNTEER at UNIF as a visiting professor. The opportunities are limitless to make an enduring difference in rural Haiti, and in the future of Haiti.