Many years ago, Madam Elvire and Pastor Delamy were deeply concerned by the high pregnancy rate of unwed young women in the area. When these girls quit going to school, there was little to look forward to and many became pregnant. After a few years, they were often left with no skills to support themselves and their children.
It was the dream of Madam Elvire to start a school for young women in Terre Blanche. In January 2002, this dream became a reality when the Women’s Trade School was established.
The school is open to all women and meets five mornings a week. This is a huge commitment for the women involved as many have family responsibilities in addition to school.
School enrollment is 30-40 women spread through the first, second and third year classes. Over the years, the age range of the students has grown. One graduate was fifty-six years old and fulfilled a lifelong dream of hers.
The school has an experienced and dedicated teacher. In addition, one of the previous graduates has returned as an assistant teacher.
The curriculum for this three-year national program includes: sewing, designing clothes, crafting, cooking with an understanding of nutrition, professional cleaning, raising children, decorating and entertaining. At the completion of the three-year curriculum an official comes from Port-au-Prince to administer the national exam.
In February 2006, the first eight women graduated from the Women’s Trade School. A group of women in Oregon heard of this accomplishment and wanted to encourage and celebrate with these graduates. They donated enough money to buy a sewing machine for each of the graduates. These are treadle machines, as there is no electricity in the area, and are purchased in Haiti. Since that first graduating class, HFH has been pleased to gift every graduate of the Women’s Trade School with a sewing machine because of donations to this project. These sewing machines represent a gift for life.
As of December 2020, ninety-nine women have graduated from the Women’s Trade School. Each of these women now has the education, skills and tools to help provide economic hope and a future for themselves and their families. This vocational education is making a difference in the lives of women in this community. Read about the recent December 2020 graduates.
by Linda Markee, HFH Founder Emerita and Ann Petersen, HFH volunteer