HEI celebrates the Haitian Arts at Southport Galleries

The harsh winter has finally retreated and spring is here. No better time to celebrate! Haitian Educational Initiatives, or HEI, plans to take advantage of the milder weather by enjoying the music and arts of the Haitian culture as well as their successful efforts to support the Haitian community. Why not join them? On Saturday, April 18, from 6-8 p.m., HEI will host a cocktail party at Southport Galleries, 330 Pequot Avenue in Southport.

There will be plenty of arts and crafts to peruse-perhaps an early Mother’s Day gift? While browsing, soak up the funky sounds of Haitian music while nibbling on local Haitian treats. Special art objects will be auctioned off as well as a wall of fine wines.

“This event is one way we like to thank the many people whose contributions make our programs possible,” said Susan Whitcomb, founder of HEI. “We enjoy sharing pictures and stories of the children, our Haitian partners, and the rebuilding of beautiful Jacmel. It’s such a heartwarming evening!”

Haiti is still reeling from the effects of the devastating earthquake in 2010. The illiteracy rate is 54% and more than half of the residents live under the poverty line. There are very few public schools and private school is too expensive for many parents to afford. The average year’s tuition is just $150 per child. Unfortunately, that means getting a good education is unattainable for many Haitian children.

“Only half of all Haitian kids have access to education and 60% of those drop out by the fifth grade because of poverty, disease and discouragement,” Whitcomb explained. “Our feeding, tutoring, job training and summer camps build skills, confidence and hope in these children. We’ve been able to keep 99% of our students in school.”

HEI, a 501(c)(3) organization, supports Haitian-led initiatives that enable impoverished children to attend public or private school by providing funds for school fees, uniforms, learning materials and related necessities, as well as weekly feedings, tutoring, job training and summer camps.

They currently provide scholarships for 110 children, tutoring and job training for 160 students, and140 kids in their summer camps. The organization also trains their Haitian partners to develop, consolidate, sustain, and replicate their own models for success for leaders in other communities. With a little bit of hope and a lot of courage, HEI is rebuilding Haiti one child at a time.

Can’t make the event? Why not donate! All donations are 100% tax deductible. You can donate at Haiti-edu.org or mail a check to Haitian Educational Initiatives at 857 Post Road in Fairfield.

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