Programs | Digicel Haiti Foundation

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About Programs

In Haiti, there is an adage which goes “men anpil chay pa lou” – it means that where there are many hands, the burden is little. With this meaningful proverb in mind, Digicel Foundation recognizes how vital it is to work in concert with local communities to guide community members towards a better life.

Upon opening its doors in 2007, the foundation embarked on a mission to assist in the development of its communities. Not long after, both Digicel and the Digicel Foundation began serving thousands of families who lost everything in the floods of Gonaives. From there, the Digicel Foundation began making substantial impressions across Haiti.

Over the last nine years, more than one million people have been touched by the foundation’s social investments in various sectors; including education and capacity building, special needs, human rights, the environment, water accessibility, improved health and sanitation, agriculture, and technology. Because of our partners’ remarkable efforts, adults have learned how to read, Special Olympic athletes earned a historic twelve medals centre stage at the World Games, many lives were spared from cholera, and thousands of youth gained access to development programs.

The Digicel Foundation Grants Program has already invested in more than 200 projects. With its longstanding partners, and new partners it hopes to meet along the way, the foundation hopes to deliver many more life-changing projects, while bringing countless hands together to lessen life’s burden for the most vulnerable populations.

Together we can!

The Digicel Foundation was still being established in Haiti when an eager group of Digicel employees headed to Ecole Mixte Lageho, a primary school in the rural community of Thomazeau. The school was a dilapidated, windowless, tin structure with dirt flooring, no partitions between the classrooms, and no furniture for the students. On that day, it became clear to those Digicel employees, that improving the learning environment for the estimated 200 children who attended that school, would become Digicel Foundation’s first project in Haiti. 

On March 7th, 2007, less than six months after the initial visit to Ecole Mixte Lageho, the Digicel Foundation was officially launched in a joyous ceremony that marked the completion of the rebuilding of Ecole Mixte Lageho in record time. The primary school, with six new fully furnished classrooms, and a proper administration had become a bright and energizing learning center. The day was drawing to a close when Denis O’Brien, Digicel Chairman and Digicel Foundation Patron, who travelled to Haiti for the special occasion, announced that he had a new challenge for the team – the new goal was to rebuild a total of 20 schools by March 2008. The school construction program was ushered in, and grew to transform the learning environments of tens of thousands of children across Haiti’s 10 departments.

The program intensified after the 2010 earthquake with a commitment to rebuilding an additional 130 schools.  After the 150th inauguration held on November 19th, 2014, a new commitment was made to build yet another 25 school construction projects.  On March 20th, 2018, the Digicel Foundation inaugurated its 175th school, Ecole Nationale Congréganiste Notre Dame du Perpétuel Secours, founded in 1922 by the Congregation of Filles de Marie Paridaens and located in the Port-au-Prince neighborhood of Bel Air.  

Since, the Digicel Foundation has continued with its construction program and to date has built 179 schools which provide a conducive learning environment to more than 60,000 children.

Education is a universal human right. Long before the United Nation’s declaration, the forefathers of the first black independent republic wrote into Haiti’s constitution that “every child has a right to free primary education”. Regrettably, this vision has yet to be fulfilled. Today, Haiti continues to face extraordinary obstacles, burdened by economic deficits, political instability, and environmental degradation. To place Haiti on a promising path to a better tomorrow, it will take a great deal of effort. In spite of challenges, Haitians have shown notable determination to bring about positive change, and the Digicel Foundation is proud to work in partnership with communities to stimulate development, particularly through education.

Since 2007, the Digicel Foundation, alongside Haiti’s Ministry of Education, has been committed to helping children receive a quality education. Through the foundation’s program, teachers, school directors, and coaches receive training to build their confidence as professionals. The program primarily seeks to close the gap between qualified and unskilled teachers, since more than 80% of functioning primary school teachers are uncertified. The program’s framework was broadened to provide school directors with intensive training in the areas of school governance, pedagogical supervision, and community relations. Additionally, the program has contributed to the professional development and performance quality of its teacher trainers who are responsible for accompanying the program’s beneficiaries.

To date, the program, which was designed to benefit schools built by the Digicel Foundation, has reached 20 trainers, 198 school directors, and 1,562 teachers throughout the country.

From the beginning a decision was made that the best people to drive the Digicel Foundation were Digicel staff members themselves. It was important that communities not only benefit from the financial support of the Digicel Foundation but also from the skills, team work and dedication of the company's extraordinary staff. as such, the foundation's board is constituted primarily of Digicel employess dedicated to making a difference in Haitian communities. Additionally, in order to give the larger staff an opportunity to make their contribution, each employee is afforded one paid day off per year at minimum to volunteer in the foundation's activities. Initiates appealing to different interests are organized on a regular basis to encourage staff participation.