Historical Timeline

Below are the historical timelines of the work of the Partners in Literacy Haiti (PILH) Committee and Rotary International’s (RI) Recent Commitment to Literacy.

Partners in Literacy Haiti (PILH)

Over 11 years developing literacy and libraries for children in underserved areas of Haiti in partnership with international and Haitian organizations.

2009: District 7750 Rotarians from Upstate South Carolina visited Central Plateau schools underserved with books. Père Fritz Lafontant, Cange village patriarch, granted permission to create a community library.  Jackie Williams, a Cange resident, accepted and served throughout this project as the resident, in-village library mentor.

2010: A major earthquake damaged Port-au-Prince. Library plans halted when Cange-designated space became hospital supply depot. In South Carolina, Rotarians from several different clubs met and submitted a library committee plan to the District 7750 Leadership Team.

2011: .Partners in Literacy Haiti (PILH) began and has operated as a committee of 7-10 members with Dr. Sara Mansbach, chair, and Rita Yarbrough, treasurer. PILH has sent all donations to Rotary 7750 Charities, Inc. , which was previously incorporated as a 501(c)3 organization to accept donated funds for the district.

2012: The first librarian was trained by Foundation of Knowledge and Liberty (FOKAL). Added glass window blocks, air conditioning, lighting, first furniture to library space and purchased French and Kreyòl books to support K-12 students. Twenty-one pre-K teachers, trained on sharing picture books, received Kreyòl scripts with 32 culturally appropriate picture books.

2013: PILH mentored the new Cange Library Task Force leaders. Clemson University donated 9 desktop computers. Six District 7750 Clubs gave $24,000 funding.

2014: PILH trained twenty-one pre-K teachers in brain development and teaching the alphabet, and provided each with classroom-sized alphabet charts and 300 individual child-sized charts. PILH distributed 500 alphabet board books. Began computerized use of the Dewey Decimal system.

2015: New librarian Maradona Pierre hired, motivated college graduate with leadership skills. Held first special library event on Martin Luther King and leadership. Later, multiple events and community movies followed. A South Carolina videographer documented library.

2016: Library patronage expanded beyond capacity. Cange Library Task Force leaders held conversations with architects. Père Garcia Kesner, recently appointed village priest was requested, then refused to sign an MOU with PILH. to co-run the library.  In October, Mansbach met Kesner with Haitian collaborators without resolution. In December, Maradona resigned.

2017: Kesner claimed library space as Cange diocese property, insisting on complete management control. In April, PILH informed Cange leaders of ending involvement and funding support. In October, Mansbach and Yarbrough visited Summits Education to explore further partnership with director, Marie Flore Chipps.

2018: PILH collaborated with Summits Education, hosting its Director at 7750 Rotary Clubs. Co-presented at Haiti Symposium. Distributed Peter Manuel’s (Encounter Bay Rotary, AU) 750 free books. Shipped 100 boxes of books, games, supplies. Celebrated Calusa and Domond libraries’ opening. Donated $7000 to Summits from various collaborators.

2019: In April, a work team visited possible library sites and decided on La Chapelle Library, Artibonite Department. In October, second Australian-PILH book project with Manuel. In December, established new collaboration with Mortenson Center for International Libraries to advocate for Haiti libraries.

Rotary International’s (RI) Recent Commitment to Literacy

Addressing Basic Education and Literacy, one of Rotary’s six focus areas, has been important throughout Rotary’s history from the early 1930’s until today.

2011: Rotary International approved the establishment of the Literacy Rotarian Action Group.  This network throughout the world acts to 1) alleviate illiteracy; 2) enhance literacy teaching and learning globally; and 3) help provide materials and equipment for literacy education at different levels.

2013: Basic Education and Literacy is identified as one of the premiere focus areas for Rotary International funding support. Rotary International-funded projects meet new criteria, engaging and involving the local community and focusing on creating a sustainable impact.

2015: The Rotary International Foundation was awarded 133 grants in literacy, totaling $8 million USD.

2020: Rotary International reports that more than 775 million people over the age of 15 are illiterate, 17% of the world’s adult population. More than 200 million children are illiterate.