|Rachel and Valmy. Valmy was the first child|
sponsored through Reach Out
Rachel Marple, visited Haiti, for the first time, six years ago on a mission trip with an organization called Reach Out to visit remote villages located in the mountains to install water filtration systems. During this trip she remembers having met a young man with Down syndrome whose family was unaware that his condition even existed. “It was then and there that I decided to pursue a degree in which I could take overseas what I was learning here at home”, Rachel said.
Now, she is currently earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education: Learning Disabilities at UM-Dearborn College of Education, Health, and Human Services (CEHHS) and she is also the co-founder of the non-profit organization “Reach Out: LaFond”.
LaFond is a community located 40 miles from Port-au-Prince that struggles with impoverished conditions and children do not have access to quality schooling. “Reach Out:LaFond” was created to inspire people to sponsor the education of students. In Haiti, many students are required to live without their parents in order to go to school in faraway places, so the mission of this organization is to provide a better education to children within their own community.
|Djerson, a student in LaFond, practices|
writing sentences in English
In addition to be the co-founder of “Reach Out:LaFond”, Rachel serves as the Treasurer and Mission Trip Leader. Currently there are three members who maintain the organization and they are in the process of adding two new board members to the team. The organization has approximately 50 families sponsoring over 65 children in LaFond.
Rachel is very active working on finding sponsors and planning the trips. Currently the organization is fundraising for the construction of a new church; they partnered with another organization to bring shoes to students; they recently started a lunch program in which students receive a hot meal during the school day and this past summer they had their first medical mission trip. “We were able to see and treat 688 patients throughout the 4-day clinic”, Rachel said.
|Volunteer nurses seeing a young patient during the medical mission|
Rachel mentioned that the Special Education: Learning Disabilities program is providing her tools to share with the teachers of the school in LaFond. For example, they are working with staff to implement an RTI program (Response to Intervention) within the schools that will help identify at risk students before waiting for them to fail. Rachel reflects on her education, “I truly believe that as a result of my education, Reach Out will produce more effective teachers and in return have children who are flourishing academically.”
Looking to the future, Rachel would like to work with the school administration in order to implement a PBIS program (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports). The organization also set a goal to help schools add on a grade each year until hitting the 12th grade. Right now, schools go from Pre-K to 7th grade.
“We want to see our students grow up to be world changers, and I believe they will be as long as they have access to education. After all, people only know what they are taught!”, Rachel said.
|Elementary students pose for a photo during recess|