All agree — the most fundamental thing that must be repaired in Haiti is her broken educational system.

  • Only half of primary school-age children in Haiti are enrolled in school.
  • Only 22% of children in Haiti attend secondary school.
  • Fewer than 2% of children in Haiti finish secondary school.
  • 70% of students in Haiti fail national tests.
  • 40% of adults in Haiti are illiterate.
  • 90% of all schools in Haiti are privately owned and run by churches and other non-government organizations. 10% are government-run.

If the people of the destitutely-poor island of La Gonave, Haiti are to ever rise from their misery permanently, it will not because of outside help, but because her own people do the raising. We recognize this, and have placed a high priority in educating, training, and developing young leaders. Over the next several years, Starfysh hopes to impact the educational system of La Gonave at many levels.

Creole Language Resources
Since there are very few books and resources in the Haitian Creole language, we will work to produce them. Thus far we have published the preschool reader, An Nou Li (Let’s Read!) and Vwayaj Yo Avek Twiga (Travels with Twiga), a children’s story written as a mentor text that elementary school teachers can follow in writing stories themselves. In addition to providing the books to children and elementary school teachers on La Gonave, we are hopeful the books will also find their way to children and schools throughout the rest of Haiti. Starfysh’s vision is to raise the island’s literacy by not only teaching children how to read, but instilling in them a passion to learn and instilling in teachers a passion to teach.

Teacher Training
We have experienced an overwhelming eagerness among the island’s school teachers to learn themselves, to improve their teaching skills. We sponsor and conduct several teacher workshops and conferences every year and are continually amazed at the energy and receptivity among the teachers who attend.

High priority is placed on making it possible for children to attend school. Where schools already exist we will resource them. In villages where there are no schools, we will do what we can to see that they have one. Our pilot example is Makochon, a village in the mountains of La Gonave who, as of a few years ago, had never had a school for its children to attend. Taking our time, we developed relationships with Makochon’s parents, children, and leaders and set into motion the vision of starting a school. Today, there is a vibrant elementary school with passionate teachers and energetic students who eat a nutritious meal every day and pass their national tests at a rate that far surpass Haiti’s national average.

Practical Life Skills
Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic are fundamentally important, but only so far as these translate into improving the quality of life for ourselves, our families, our villages, and our island. It is essential that we infuse learning with the things that will be useful… not just for surviving, but for thriving and prospering, too, as each finds his/her personal role in raising La Gonave up to what she can be. Topics like nutrition, gardening/farming, soil management, health and hygeine, business creation/management, skilled trades, leadership, etc. must be integrated into the educational experience so that students are ready to take the important next steps after graduating.


Childhood Creole Literature

We aim to foster early childhood learning and reading on the island of La Gonave, Haiti by producing and distributing Creole-language literature and resources, and to see these resources become a saleable, exportable commodity to Haiti’s mainland, which will provide not only sustainability to the project, but economic lift for La Gonave.

Focusing on the K-3rd grade levels, we will create (write and publish) books that can be used to resource school libraries across the island. These books will come in the following ways:

  • With author permissions, existing books (in English) can be translated into Creole.
  • New books will be written (in Creole) and illustrated (in Haitian context) by outside writers and illustrators.
  • La Gonave’s children themselves, however, will be our single greatest resource of creative talent. Who better to tell the stories and draw the pictures that Haitian kids will enjoy and appreciate?

Armed with examples and resources for writing and drawing, we will work with children and teachers in putting their imaginations to paper, creating pictures and short stories that we will reproduce, publish and bind. These compilations of short stories will be shared and exchanged with other schools and other villages. Schools will be encouraged and resourced in integrating a strong reading and creative writing emphasis into their ongoing literacy curriculum.

We are also exploring creative ways to connect students in Haiti with students in the States. A classroom of kids in a tiny mountaintop village in tropical Haiti sharing stories back and forth with a classroom of kids in a snowy town in Michigan has the potential to expand minds in both worlds.

Total project startup cost:



In the fall of 2012, Starfysh was able to open a school in an impoverished village in the mountains of Haiti. The village never before had a school, so we literally started from the very beginning. We first helped them establish a village leadership committee who we involved in the planning. We would start simple: four classes, kindergarten through 3rd grade. We found an old, tiny, heavily-damaged church building that was not being used, and without much expense were able to make the crude structure safe enough. We partitioned the building into four tiny rooms. We built benches and blackboards. We found and hired four energetic teachers along with a principal. We registered the school with local (island) jurisdictions. We arranged for daily meals for the children.

By all measures, the Makochon school startup has been a success, providing an elementary school (pre-K – 6th grades) in a village that had never had one. We recently completed Phase One of a new school campus a short walk away from the tarp-roofed structure building they’ve been meeting in for the first four years.

Not all of Starfysh’s future school projects will be start-from-scratch. There are dozens of struggling schools peppered across the island, schools that simply need someone to partner with them. We see tremendous win-win opportunities for groups (schools, churches, businesses, clubs, etc.) who will come along side a new or struggling school and bring hope and dignity to a village.

The first, very good year presented us with a new, very good problem! A larger, more suitable structure is necessary to accommodate the school’s growth. It has been amazing to see how they have managed in their tiny, dilapidated four-classroom building, with its tarp roof. It is clear to us that this precious new school will continue on as a permanent, transformative improvement in the life of the village.

A community development facilitator will be hired to work closely with the village of Makochon for a period of 9-12 months, for the purpose of developing a responsible, transparent, and accountable community/school leadership board. We will work with village leadership to design and build a suitably-sized elementary school building and campus. Local labor will be hired and trained in building skills. Locally-purchased materials will be used as much as possible. Visiting work teams will come down to work alongside our Haitian friends. The building structure and grounds will be configured for multipurpose use and flexibility (e.g., after school adult education and village meetings). Classrooms will be outfitted with chairs, work-tables, blackboards, cupboards and filing cabinets, and they will be resourced with the things needed to enrich the learning experience: books, maps, manipulatives, etc. Solar panels will provide for lighting. A canteen kitchen, eating area for the kids and latrines will be included. Rainwater will be captured from the roof, stored in cisterns, and used for irrigating the school gardens. A versatile outside classroom/work pavilion will be situated in the school gardens.

$2,000 per month will completely support a Pre-K through 6th grade elementary school: teacher salaries, daily nutritious meals, student uniforms, classroom supplies).


Finish Makochon's New School

Phase One of Makochon’s new school was completed in Fall, 2016. Half of its classes have moved in and are now enjoying their new facility. It will now take significantly fewer dollars for the completion phase of the project (i.e., Phase One included purchase of the land, building latrines, rainwater cistern, etc.), all funds to be used for the remaining for classrooms.

Needed to finish entire project:
$60,000 ($15,000 per classroom). Includes construction, classroom furniture and supplies.


Teacher Training Conference

In addition to providing teaching techniques, our teacher training conferences are a time of motivation and team-building. The reputation of our conferences’ quality is spreading to schools across even the far reaches of the island, to the extent that it is hard to turn away village schools who want to send their teachers to our conferences. Sponsoring a teacher or even an entire conference is a great way to invest in the lives of not only teachers, but in the lives of children for years to come.

$5,000 will provide the needed materials to conduct a 3-day, high quality – high impact teacher training conference to 100 teachers ($50/teacher).