The founding of “The Crosby Fund for Haitian Education” in 2004 was inspired by Ted and Rebecca Crosby’s knowledge of the lack of educational opportunities for the Haitian youth, and their conviction that Haiti’s future and nation building is dependent on education.
The Crosby Fund provides 350 full scholarships for academically gifted Haitian students living in the Artibonite Valley. Scholarships are granted to students in primary, secondary, technical school and university programs. Education in Haiti is not free; without this support these students would not be able to attend school.
Dormil Roberson is the director of a school in Les Forges, Haiti where some Crosby Fund beneficiaries go to school. In 1995, Dormil built a school in Les Forges, Haiti because there were no other schools in the area.
In this area, parents often aren’t able to send their kids to school. I built this school to get more children to go to school. A major problem is that many of my students are unable to pay for school. Lots of their parents get money from farming, and their income relies on the weather. I need more money to keep the school running. Many came here after the Port-Au-Prince earthquake when their mothers died. Many of them aren’t able to pay for school, but I let them come anyway.
Every year I think I will have to close the school. I dont have enough money coming in to pay teachers, to keep it running. But i can’t close it because we need a school.
Teachers at Dormil Roberson’s school make 5000 gourdes ($110) per month, but he is often unable to pay them because so many students are unable to afford tuition. Other schools have it worse. Teachers at Institution Mixte Claude St Louis in Verrettes make just $80 per month, but they weren’t paid in September, October, or November of 2013.
Miradieu Estimé is an artist living in Deschapelles with his wife and children. The majority of Estimé’s family’s income–several hundred dollars per year–comes from selling his art. There is little to no market for art in Haiti.
Michelson, Estimé’s son, is a Crosby Fund student, and attends Dormil Roberson’s school. Michelson has some of the best grades of any Crosby Fund student. He wants to become a doctor. Estimé would not be able to send Michelson to school without help.
Sometimes my father doesn’t have anything to give me, like food. Sometimes I go to school without food, and when I arrive at school I feel very hungry. I try to go without the teacher knowing, and sometimes cannot stay at school because I am very hungry. But I stay anyway.
Verna became a Crosby Fund beneficiary in the organization’s first year, 2004. After graduation, he began work at Hospital Albert Schweitzer (HAS) in Deschapelles as a technician of rehabilitation and physical therapy.
I can say it was a very difficult situation, especially for my family. Sometimes if I went to school 5 days in a week, I could only eat something before going to school one or two times. And then the problem was after class, you just go home and you don’t have anything on the table to eat. So anyway you have to take your book just to study, to do your homework. Without going to school, if you don’t learn anything in the technical school, sometimes it’s difficult to find something to do just to find money. In Deschapelles, I see most people can try to find some work. They don’t have too complicated lives. So sometimes they just do what they find. Even if I don’t receive money it’s a pleasure just to- if i’ve got some in my pocket and see someone who needs some money, I can’t see people suffer. So in general they are supposed to have some programs for those kind of people. Maybe they have some programs in other places, but they don’t have any for them up in the mountains. Sometimes it’s a pleasure just to go up, to bring something.
I used to see someone just on the way. Even if i dont ask them any questions I can feel that someone who is hungry, someone who maybe hasn’t eaten anything since this morning, or since yesterday. So I just approach and talk to them, make a little conversation to know the situation and try to help the way I can. I remember this patient, he lived up the mountain. The first time I saw him he was unable to stand by himself. He had a deformity of the spine, he had arthritis of both knees, he couldn’t stand by himself. The first time i saw him I imagined he’s a patient who can improve with some exercise. Now the patient is very happy, having a lot of progress, so I was very happy to see this patient doing some exercise - just moving quickly, going to see the neighbors, going to the garden by himself without an assisting device; he goes to the market without assisting device. I’m very happy just to see the patient improve. It’s very nice, a very good experience.
Hélène, another Crosby Fund student since 2004, grew up in a very poor town in the mountains surrounding the Artibonite Valley. She was able to move to the valley for school, and became a Crosby Fund student. She is now a doctor, and is doing her residency at HAS.
Very little of the people of the mountains go to school. I was a privileged person that my family decided to send me to school. Many of my cousins, my relatives, didn’t go to school. I decided to be a doctor at the beginning of my primary school, because I had an uncle who made traditional medicine, and I loved that. I learned how to practice physical therapy with friends in the mountains - I already started in my primary school because of my uncle.
I decided to be a doctor because I like to take care of people. When there is someone who is sick, I have an obligation to do something. When I was young, I didn’t know if this thing will work or not, but I did something to help people. It was for that reason I decided to be a doctor in my life. And I love my work.
About my job, I enjoy a lot of things. I most enjoy seeing my patient improve, just seeing my patient getting better, and just come back to the appointment and say,
“Oh, Verna I am very happy. Now I can work, now I can do some daily activities.”
It’s so good to find a patient who really knows what you do, and is very cooperative in what you do, and then just improves quickly. This is the thing I enjoy best - to see my patient improve, and see my patient cooperate in the treatment. We just cooperate together, and get the best resolution.
I would like to become a neurosurgeon. Haiti is a developing country and there are only three neurosurgeons for more than ten million people. When we have patients with neurosurgical problems, the majority of the time they die because we cannot do anything in neurosurgery. The three neurosurgeons that we have practice in Port-au-Prince. In my plans, I’d like that in the future - from 2020 to 2030 - that Haiti has a neurosurgical center. I think it will be enough for all people, but I think it is very important. It’s the beginning of the thing - I think that it will be great that we start with this process in Haiti in order to help people who have neurosurgical problems.
I’m happy to be one of the beneficiaries of the Crosby Fund. My goal - I’m not done, but my goal is keep learning more, and then to help...it’s not only Haitian people, but everyone in the world. If I find someone who needs my help and my experience, I’m ready and it will be a pleasure to help and hope everybody will try to help the way they can. You don’t need to have a lot of things to help. In the mountains, we don’t have a lot of things. Just doing exercises. Sometimes some of them don’t believe in what we do. They go “what are we going to do? You just come to move my hand, just move my foot?” and they say, “It will be better?” I say “yes. Just keep doing it. I promise you if you do it normally, you will have change.” It’s a pleasure to see one of them who was not believing in the exercise, when this person is getting better, it’s a very good situation to see and to enjoy.
A lot of Haitians don’t work. They do something to live, but they don’t have enough money to send their children to school.
I didn’t know what physical therapy was before. So when Crosby talked about it with me, I said “what? physical therapy?” They said, “yes, rehabilitation. You will be able to work with pediatric patients, surgery patients, medicine patients, OB/GYN patients, every service.” I wasn’t interested in that, because I didn’t know what that was. But when I started learning, I didn’t see anything else I could learn. Just physical therapy. Education is the key to have a better country.
Because of the Crosby Program, a lot of people of the Artibonite Valley have a fine possibility to go to school. I can say that, for example, if I didn’t find Crosby, maybe I wouldn’t be a Doctor. It’s very expensive to study medicine in Haiti and in every part of the world. The Crosby program is very important and I hope that they continue to improve their capacity to help, not only in the Artibonite Valley, but in the Artibonite totally maybe in the whole of the country in the future.
Unlike the United States and surrounding islands, education is not free in Haiti. This places a financial burden on parents that does not exist for most of us.
Only 50% of primary school age children are enrolled in school. Of those, 60% will abandon school before they reach 6th grade.
The average Haitian family makes $660 per year. There is no country in the Western Hemisphere with a lower per capita income.
Education costs an average of $131 per year, per child.
Many of the Crosby Fund's 350 students would be unable to attend school without scholarships provided by the organization.
by Robert Shook, in partnership with The Crosby Fund for Haitian Education.