Philanthropists like Benny Klepach have a firm memory of January 12, 2010. That day over four years ago initially seemed like any other. But once the reports started pouring in of a devastating earthquake in Haiti, the world would never be the same. Haiti faced devastation that rocked the world – and created a worldwide response to the disaster.
Looking back four years removed, the world rushed to aid Haiti in whatever ways they could. From rescue supplies to volunteerism, the world helped the country get back on its feet. But the devastation has continued to have a terrible effect on the country. And Haiti is far from any sort of full recovery.
One of the biggest points of suffering has come through a lack of critical resources throughout the country. Particularly, this holds true for education. With the destruction of countless schools throughout Haiti, many children have simply remained out of luck when it comes to education. Lacking an education, these children face a grim future for potential success in their adult years.
The good news is that despite these challenges, there are some definite signs of life within Haiti’s educational system. Miami-based WPLG recently reported on the opening of a new school in the Saint-Marc region of Haiti. Saint-Marc, approximately two hours north of Port-au-Prince, showcases the devastation the earthquake wrought on the country. But the opening of the new school also shows a glimmer of hope and light the country needs for its road to full recovery.
As WPLG reporter Glenna Milberg wrote on the school, “Happy, engaged, curious and confident, the students at the new Lycee John Baptiste Point Du Sable are getting college-prep education, including classes where they will learn French, Creole and English.”
This school represents a remarkable change coming to regions of Haiti still reeling in devastation. And in this particular case, the reality of the school’s christening comes directly through the help of South Florida philanthropy and charitable organizations. One of the largest benefactors is philanthropist and business professional Benny Klepach.
As Glenna Milberg continued, “To bring change to children, Klepach is part of the South Florida Connection, a company that has given millions in donations, priceless intentions to protect the future of a country so important and so connected to so many in South Florida.”
Benny Klepach is among a continually growing number of American businesses doing their part to help Haiti recover. For him, investing in education is a no-brainer for charitable contributions. “Education is the best investment you can make for the future, Klepach recently noted. “As the saying goes, it’s better to teach a man how to fish than to give him a fish.”
Continued Investment, Philanthropy in Haiti Imperative for Full Recovery
Port-au-Prince has remained the focal point of the recovery after the 2010 quake. While the city was the most heavily damaged, it wasn’t the only area impacted. In fact, the destruction made its way throughout the country. The resonating damage goes beyond crumbling buildings. The displacement of residents, residual economic struggles and beleaguered morale extend throughout Haiti – and the rest of the world.
However, now that a new school has sprung up with the help of philanthropic aid, a new type of hope is spreading in Haiti. It’s giving residents the inspiration they need to see beyond the devastation. And it’s getting the whole country interested in the future of Haiti again.
As President Martelly stated in a recent press event about the school, “In these kids I see kids who are just at the beginning of their studies but seem to be brighter than kids who are finished school in the past and do not know much.”
The best change for Haiti today, according to Benny Klepach, is to invest in the future through education. “Haiti’s systemic problems can be corrected with educating the leaders of tomorrow,” he continued. “Education is fundamental to a well- functioning society. How can one plan for the future and make sound decisions without the knowledge and insight to fuel those decisions?”
Making Education Work for the Future
For Klepach and other philanthropists, the value of the new Lycee John Baptiste Point Du Sable School at Saint-Marc can be summed up by seeing how much joy it brings the students. “It feels so good to see the joy in the children’s faces,” he noted. “The school in Saint-Marc has changed their lives. It’s so important to give back and enrich the lives of others.”
One school is only a small start to a systemic problem which needs more attention. But this critical step has already shown the value and benefit education can provide in helping a place like Haiti recover. In the end, these educated children will one day lead the nation back toward even better recovery. Benny Klepach, the South Florida Connection as well as countless other philanthropists look forward to continued contributions to education in Haiti and beyond.
Harvey Greer contributed to this post.