“Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”
— Martin Luther King Jr
In 1977, GSI’s founder, Abner Noza, had a dream to give back to the small village area where he grew up, particularly to feed & educate the children. Reflecting on the opportunity & blessing he had experienced since moving to more developed countries, he felt compelled to be a blessing to others. He envisioned a place where kids would have a fighting chance to climb out of their humble circumstances and into a place of real opportunity. Shortly after, he opened up Gethsemane Primary School in the mountainous village area in Fond des Blancs not too far from the house he grew up in as a child.
Since its opening in 1988, Gethsemane School has educated well over 2,000 students averaging 200 a year. From kindergarten through 6th grade, students experience a warm, safe environment that has also continually grown in academic excellence each year. See below for some comparative highlights when measured against the rest of Haiti’s education system …
- Our student to teacher classroom ratio of 25:1 is around half the national average (at 46:1)
- Almost 9 out of 10 students finish our primary school, whereas at most only 2/3 of other Haitian students make it through this level
- In 2012, 93% of our children — a steady improvement over the years – passed the national exam that allows them to enter high school, compared to just 66% nationally
- Of those who continue in high school half of Gethsemane School students will graduate, which is double the average Haitian high school rate of only 25%
Though we strive to (and succeed at!) providing our kids with a great education, the situation is not entirely ideal. Imagine attending a school where there is no library, no extracurricular activities, and no access to any computers for the sake of learning. Try then to also picture that same school with no electricity, a single outhouse for over 250 students and staff, half the classes learning in makeshift, tent-like structures, and the other half meeting in a single large classroom with only a sheet to divide them. This is where we’re at for the moment!
“Behind the mountain, there are mountains.”
— Haitian Proverb
Since the earthquake of 2010 and through subsequent tropical storms we’ve been in the repair & meeting basic needs stage of development, as our structures have been damaged a few times over and funding priorities have had to shift. We are now stabilized, though, and in an exciting new expansion phase that we want you to be a part of! Please browse our “join us” pages to get an idea of the types of activities to which we’d like to introduce our students, and how you can help!
Because our school only educates up to the 6th grade, we made a commitment years ago to sponsor about 30 of our kids who go on to high school in the form of scholarships. Though it’s not been an easy promise to keep financially, it is an investment we’ve found to be well worth it! It has reaped dividends in the form of children who’ve gone on to greater all-around success in life and especially for those who’ve returned to Fond des Blancs to make a difference.