By Sarah Smith
Have you ever asked a kid what they want to be when they grow up? Fire fighter, police officer, doctor, singer, fashion designer...the possibilities are endless. I even had a friend whose childhood dream was to be a cupcake. Kids dream. They truly believe they can be anything—even cupcakes. For them, the possibilities of the future are endless.
Dreaming is universal—our students in Haiti dream about their futures just like the kids in any small-town classroom. We love knowing that our students have dreams, and we love dreaming about ways that we can make them a reality. We know that hope through education doesn’t stop after a student graduates from high school, so we’ve been hard at work developing a plan to make sure our kids don’t stop dreaming...and to equip them to reach those dreams.
When we think of education, we think of the doors it opens. Even though the paths our students can take are numerous and varied and beautifully diverse, we see them originating from three doors…
Door One: The Scholars
Education opens doors. That’s part of the reason why we’re so passionate about it. We want our students who’ve got big dreams to get the education to pursue them, and we don’t want cost to be a barrier. That’s why we’re creating a scholarship fund for students whose dreams require a college education: the future doctors. Nurses. Business leaders. Politicians. Lawyers. Teachers.
The best part about the scholarship fund? It’s an investment...and investments have returns. When our students receive the college education they’ll need to keep dreaming, they’ll be equipped and empowered to create change and rewrite stories in the communities and economies around them.
Door Two: The Apprentices
There’s more than one way to make an investment into our students and, in turn, local communities. For students who are passionate about the skilled trades, farming, and artistry, we’re committed to finding local programs to partner with as they pursue further training. We’ll find experts to help our graduates pioneer new farming strategies that will transform local economies and to train small business leaders, electricians, carpenters, and painters as our graduates gain the skills and knowledge they need to support themselves and, eventually, their families.
Door Three: The Activists
“Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” Not only is Isaiah 1:17 the “why” behind our “what,” it’s a vision that we’re infusing into our curriculum and a philosophy that we dream our students will adopt one day. With that in mind, we’re preparing a third door for our graduates to walk through.
When we think of graduates who will seek justice and encourage the oppressed, we think of nonprofit leaders, social justice entrepreneurs, pastors, and church planters. Once our students hit middle school, we’ll begin developing a two-year, post-high school program to equip them to create programs and organizations that find new ways to seek justice and defend the left behind and vulnerable. Graduates of the program will not only be passionate about pursuing justice, they’ll have the skills and know-how to chase after it as they gain hands-on experience with missions, ministry, and nonprofit work both in Haiti and beyond its borders.
Whatever path our students take after they graduate, we’re honored to have the privilege to stand alongside them as they leave the doors of Institution One17 and walk into whatever door God has for them next.