Promoting sustainable change in Haiti

Filed Under: EARTH News
Date: October 25th, 2018

Reginald Cean (’11, Haiti)

EARTH University alum Reginald Cean (’11, Haiti) harnesses his EARTH education to generate sustainable change in Haiti – including establishing an ag school with Partners in Health.

It was in 2010 that representatives of Partners in Health visited EARTH. Reginald, then a third-year student, took the opportunity to present his ideas to them about bolstering youth agricultural leadership in Haiti. Emboldened by the very positive response he received, Reginald undertook the task of developing an agricultural studies curriculum that would engage young people struggling for opportunity in Haiti. In his fourth year at EARTH, he finalized his plans, proposing a curriculum inspired by EARTH’s own experiential model – starkly different from traditional education practices in Haiti.

Shortly after Reginald’s graduation from EARTH, the Centre de Formation Fritz Lafontant technical school became a reality. A student recruitment campaign was initiated in 2012, culminating in the enrollment of 26 young Haitians – the school’s first cohort. After 3.5 years of studies, they completed their technical diplomas and quickly integrated into the local labor market.  The institute’s success is thanks in large part to Reginald’s vision, dedication, and hard work.

Reginald has worked tirelessly to build coalitions with other organizations and institutions, too – such as an effort with the University of Michigan (USA) that supported 11,000 Haitian farmers and 150 community groups recovering from the destruction caused by Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

From witnessing the chaotic aftermaths of frequent natural disasters, Reginald has internalized innumerable lessons about the shortcomings of current Haitian practices. “Many community organizations are not equipped to bring about real change in communities. Often, they don’t even have a strategic plan,” he said. His astute observations have informed his development of the technical school, where the education focuses on entrepreneurship and sustainability – ways to challenge the status quo by promoting resilience and innovative thinking within the country.

Additionally, Reginald works with the Haiti Development Institute to raise funds and invest in community development projects that bring about systemic change and move the country beyond a culture of charity.

“When I returned to Haiti, I took to heart that I can be the difference in my country. I aimed to do that by creating the school and other projects, and I have seen results,” he said. “Wherever I travel for work, I seek out the things that are functioning well and challenge myself to bring those ideas back to Haiti.”

“Thanks to my experience at EARTH, I can work anywhere,” he added. “An EARTH education is valuable and can help you do so much: make change, make a difference, create something big from nothing.”