ACE and Holy Cross kindle hope for Haiti in new schools and innovative programs

Author: Bill Schmitt

Basile Moreau School, Haiti

Four and half years after the devastating earthquake in Haiti destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure, the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education has helped the Congregation of Holy Cross rebuild its schools in its effort to renew education in the Caribbean country.

With more than $1 million in support from the Notre Dame and ACE communities, Holy Cross has rebuilt its Basile Moreau School, which had been reduced to rubble. The new facility in the slum neighborhood of Port au Prince called Carrefour serves 1,000 K-12 students, twice the number as before the earthquake. The new building and campus present a stark contrast to the surrounding neighborhood. The principal of Basile Moreau, Rev. Rosemond Marcelin, C.S.C., said, “We rebuilt this school to be beautiful and expansive so that the children who come here could see beyond the trash and squalor that they live in and dare to have beautiful and audacious dreams for their lives.”

Advancing Basile Moreau’s mission to serve the poorest children and families in this community, one-third of the students receive major tuition assistance, and another third attend the school at no cost. ACE, working with generous Notre Dame benefactors, has provided 100 scholarships for each of the next five years to increase access for the poorest students. ACE has also partnered with benefactors to beautify the campus, with landscaping and the addition of a soccer field.

Holy Cross and ACE leaders are now adding new computer labs, strengthening the English language curriculum and instruction, and developing a health clinic to serve the students, many of whom lack access to regular medical care, eyeglasses and adequate nutrition. This summer, Basile Moreau hosted more than a dozen Notre Dame faculty, staff, students and alumni, including ACE graduates leading English language camps and a medical team to coordinate a health screening of nearly 1,000 students and teachers.

“The transformation at Basile Moreau School is simply breathtaking,” said Rev. Tim Scully, C.S.C., founder of the Alliance for Catholic Education. “From the rubble, a beautiful school has emerged and is now bustling with activity and exciting and innovative programs. Basile Moreau is a beacon of hope and a testament to the power of the Gospel in service to our most vulnerable children.”

ACE’s work in support of Holy Cross schools is only a small portion of the powerful impact ACE is making in Haiti. ACE’s initiatives include working with Catholic Relief Services and the Haitian Catholic Church to train thousands of teachers, as well as transforming educational outcomes through an innovative literacy program that benefits more than 7,500 students in impoverished Catholic schools. Notre Dame’s ACE Haiti effort and the work of its partners represent perhaps the largest, most impactful and most promising set of projects currently underway in Haitian education.

The ACE in Haiti program offers a breadth of initiatives transforming this hard-hit country’s future through quality education for its next generations. Notre Dame’s Committed to Haiti initiative highlights the University’s broader efforts, integrating education, health care and overall sustainability to support human development in Haiti.

Contact: Bill Schmitt, Alliance for Catholic Education, 574-631-3893, wschmitt@nd.edu

Originally published by Bill Schmitt at news.nd.edu on August 15, 2014.