Haitian Education Initiatives

Handmade Books Arrive in Haitian Hands

We are so gratified to have received this letter and these wonderful photographs:

Dear John and Josh and Wonderland BookSavers,

The children of Fondation Jean Bellande Joseph in Cayes-Jacmel send heartfelt thanks for the beautiful books created by the students in John McMillan and Josh Cummings’ French classes from Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center in Chicago, and delivered to us by Allie through Wonderland BookSavers.

Haitian kids reading books WBS 2

The books were a stunning success!

Haitian kids reading books WBS 3

First, there were enough for everyone, which is a big issue in the distribution of gifts. Very few students have books of their very own outside required textbooks and access to our growing library.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our kids immediately grasped the hard work that went into the composition and illustration of the books, and the laminating insured their longevity – so necessary in Haiti.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There was a book about a pig given to one of the girls who shared the same name and that provoked a torrent of giggles. (Her friends all that that was very appropriate.)


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Standing up to read your books was an important exercise in public speaking.


Our students, aged 3-19, are in primary and secondary schools in a semi-rural area outside Jacmel, on the South coast of Haiti. Their parents are subsistence farmers who live on about $1.25 per day. Most of their parents are illiterate and really struggle to keep their kids fed, clothed and in school. We provide scholarships, food and job training to 67 kids in this area who spend every Saturday with us. Many of the kids in the photographs are much older than they look because their growth was stunted by malnutrition in early childhood but they are thriving now with us!


You might be interested to know that the administrator of our program, who is a Haitian Education Department official, said that most Haitian children would not be able to produce books like this because they are not encouraged to do any kind of creative writing. They generally learn by rote and don’t have the resources or tradition of branching out into projects like this. We have challenged our kids to develop books of their own and I hope they’ll be inspired by your models.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Please thank all the students whose talent and care brought such delight to our kids.

Haitian kids reading books WBS 1

Very best wishes to you all,

Susy Whitcomb

Haitian Education Initiatives


Immediate Relief for Haiti: How You Can Help, How We Will Help, Join Us!

By Brooks Morgan

If you are looking for a way to respond to the Haitian hurricane disaster, here is a non-profit that we personally know and trust.

The Wonderland BookSavers have been working with the Founder and President, Susan P. Whitcomb, of Haitian Education Initiatives for the past several years.  We have donated 100’s of French-language children’s books to her programs so that the Haitian children she serves can extend their educational opportunities.  This past spring we were able to purchase books, both fiction and non-fiction, that were written in Haitian-Creole, providing these children with the very first books they have ever seen in their own native language.  Susy has worked tirelessly to provide food and education to the children under her care.  Now they desperately need more than books.  They need water.  They need food.

8717ea7d-7902-4c1c-98a0-f5fc28cfa3b4_w987_r1_sThe situation in Jacmel, Haiti is extremely challenging: hundreds of homes have been damaged or destroyed, as well as 36 schools and 2 hospitals. 80% of crops and animals have been lost. The population lacks food and clean water. 5 cases of cholera have already emerged and an epidemic is expected since the town has been flooded by rainwater, sewage and mud.

Haitian Educational Initiatives (HEI) has two distribution centers in the Jacmel area to provide emergency food kits for hurricane victims. These kits provide enough food, clean water and hygiene supplies to support a family of 6-8 for about 2 weeks.  Each kit costs $80.  Donations may be made online at www.haitiedu.org or by check to Haitian Educational Initiatives, 857 Post Road, Fairfield, CT 06824.

HEI is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization based in Fairfield, CT. Since 2010 we have partnered with Haitian community groups to promote access to education for impoverished children whose families cannot afford to send them to school. Our programs include scholarships, feeding, academic tutoring, job training and summer camps.  HEI is a transparent and accountable organization: 92 cents of every dollar goes directly to programs. For more information contact susan@haitiedu.org or www.haitiedu.org.


We, at Wonderland Booksavers, are personal friends with Susy, and we are acquainted with the many successful ventures she has achieved in Haiti.  We look forward to supporting her efforts by contributing some of our Lemonade for Literacy dollars towards Hurricane Survival kits.  Please join us.  There can be no learning without food, water and sanitation! Remember: $80 is of finite value, but the care you offer is of infinite worth.

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9