In a country where the illiteracy rate in some regions is more than 80 percent, the Haiti Outreach Program since 1999 has supported Boucan-Carre's Ecole de San Michel, serving preschool through sixth grade. Since the construction of a new facility in 2006, enrollment has grown dramatically from 300 to approximately 1000 students and 40 teachers and staff. In March 2017 we celebrated the opening of four new classrooms, funded by our partner St. Anselm parish in St. Louis, to accommodate overcrowding.
Our Student Sponsorship Program pays for student meals, uniforms, and teacher salaries. The program is funded by parishioners of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Knoxville, Tennessee, and St. Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Church in Tabb, Virginia, as well as individuals, neighboring churches and local businesses. With no overhead costs, the Haiti Outreach Program ensures that 100% of all donations go to Haiti.
Boucan-Carre's secondary school teachers previously held class outdoors under a tarp after the roof of their small structure was blown off during a hurricane. The College de San Michel opened in 2005. Grades were added as students reached the next levels.
In 2012 the Xinergy Corporation of Knoxville funded construction of a permanent secondary school, making secondary education available for the first time to many qualified students who previously could not attend due to tuition costs, family responsibilities, or simply the long distance to the nearest school.
Today the school offers grades 7 through 12 as well as an additional year, called Philo, for students who intend to pursue college degrees. The high school's 250 students consistently score points higher than the national average on achievement tests. Many graduates have stayed in the community and work as teachers, nurses and city officials.
Boucan-Carre's vocational school opened in 2004 when the parish nuns who manage the primary school began offering cooking instruction for young adult women. Housed in the original primary school with an enrollment today of about 45 students, the vocational school's focus is on training for specific jobs. Cooking skills in particular are highly marketable in rural areas of Haiti as well as larger cities.
Many of the women who complete the program find accessible jobs that provide critically needed financial support for their families.