Written by Marco Cerqueira, Programs Officer
Haiti Partners, Vista Hermosa Foundation partner since 2009, is producing a book written in Haiti-Creole with a translation to English, to tell the story of their school created with the philosophy of servant leadership. The Children’s Academy and Learning Center or Académie des Enfants et Centre d’Apprentissage (ADECA) was founded in 2012 to provide community-based education for children in Bawoysa, a rural community in the hills above Port-au-Prince, capital of Haiti.
“Sound or servant leadership is the kind of leadership that Jesus displayed. Jesus came to this world to serve others. He helped people heal and grow in their spiritual lives. Jesus inspired others to develop abilities and talents, to help one another, and to help others care for themselves”, explains Merline and John Engle, co-directors of Haiti Partners, in the concept document for the book, which has no date for publication yet.
The story of ADECA is mingled with school-based and community development by including parents assisting in classrooms, helping maintain the school campus and the broader area (planting trees, maintaining roads) inspiring broader transformation in the community.
“ADECA is an institution that believes in konbit. We are inspired by the examples of our forefathers who used konbit to survive from the time they gained their freedom. The practice of konbit—working together in partnership—enables people to accomplish more and be more fulfilled while working together. This model encourages people to cooperate and work collaboratively to improve families and communities. An important practice in servant leadership is that people who will be impacted by a decision must have a voice in that decision-making process.”, emphasizes Merline and John Engle.
Avid gardeners – One example of engagement with servant leadership and konbit is Fritzner and his family (pictured) who are active in the community. He was one of the first people in the community to follow the example of the school and converted his latrine to a composting to make humanure to fertilize his garden. Fritzner and his kids are avid gardeners.
“Fritzner was just a boy of 12 when he connected with Haiti Partners leadership. Like many children in Haiti, he had a hard life. His parents were poor and apart. Neither could afford to care for him. Another family took him in as a child. He worked for them domestically. At 15, he was allowed the chance to start school with the funds that he had earned.”, remembers Merline and John Engle.
At 38 years-old, he is now employed part-time maintaining the organization water filtration system, diesel generator and plumbing system at the Children’s Academy. Fritzner and his wife Mirlège have two boys and a girl attending ADECA. Monroe is 11 years-old and is in the sixth grade; Fritzlens is 8 years-old and is a second grader; Anne is 6 years-old and a happy Kindergartner!
“The education they receive at the Children’s Academy is beyond what I would have ever dreamed. Academics, while important, is only part of it. I love watching how my children relate with others, their compassion and empathy. I learn with them about good nutrition, caring for the environment and permaculture gardening techniques. At a young age, my children are learning the importance of building and improving our community”Fritzner