WEXFORD, Pa., Dec. 3, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Lan Vwa? The spell check must not be working again, right? There's no way that that could be correct, is there? Well, not only is it the correct spelling, this non-profit has the audacious goal to try and correct some of the injustices that they see in this world. Lan Vwa means "the voice" in Haitian Creole and their mission statement expands on this to say, "Giving back to people what poverty has stolen from them- their voice."
The seeds for this organization were planted in 2010 in Haiti when Lan Vwa's founder and president, Kelly Weaver, was in that country helping with earthquake relief. She met some girls who had the desire to attend college in the United States, but had no ways or means to do so. Kelly knew that with the world tuned in to the plight of Haiti, finding scholarship opportunities might not be that daunting of a task. And she was right, she quickly secured some scholarships. The only problem was, when the girls took their tests to be eligible, they did not come close to qualifying.
At the time, there were no institutions of higher education standing in Haiti. The foundation students received, if any, was poor. 50 percent of primary school aged students were not enrolled and 30 percent of those that were enrolled generally would drop out. As the students got older, the outcome would become bleaker- each passing year brought more and more drop-outs. With all this in mind, there were few qualified teachers having come from the same education system. Approximately 75 percent of teachers in Haiti lack adequate training.
Not to be one that gives up easy or to take this as a dead end, Kelly asked herself, "What can we do to fix this problem?" The solution all of a sudden seemed simple: why not start up a cyber-school to help the girls get prepared, so when the opportunity arises they will be ready?
Details materialized quickly as the local orphanage already had a building and internet access and computers. Once all of the initial tech work got completed and volunteers were secured to teach, the cyber-school launched to great success. But this seemed like a one time deal, something to help right now, not something to consider replicating in other areas.
It wasn't until the following year when Kelly was on a service trip to Joconal, a village nestled in the mountains of Guatemala that she got the idea to incorporate Lan Vwa. The school in the village ends in sixth grade- after that your main options are to start working in the fields with your parents or go to live in Guatemala City five hours away and continue your education. The only problem is, since these kids are away from their families and the only way of life they have ever known, many of them fall into gangs and drugs. This was obviously not an acceptable option, so you can guess what Kelly decided to do next.
But how do you have a cyber-school when you have no building? The Leiva family that owns the coffee farm in the village graciously donated the use of their building. How do you get electricity when so few people in the area do? You take advantage of one of the natural resources that Guatemala is blessed with and install solar panels. How do you get an internet connection when there is not a single one in the whole village? You install a satellite to receive the signal. This was all accomplished in a trip to Joconal in August 2012. Also, eighty students enrolled for the school and children and adults signed up for ESL classes.
According to World Bank, in 2011, income was the greatest source of inequality in education in Latin America with location being a close second as the grade level increased. The school in Joconal can be the first step towards change. Paulino Santiago runs the daily operations at the Leivas' coffee farm. He is 34 years old with a first grade education and said in reference to the cyber-school in the village, "This is like a dream."
Kelly, a few of her board members and some volunteers will travel back to Joconal in January 2013 to start testing for the students and to kick-off the first seventh grade class in that village's history! There are many ways that you can contribute: teach or tutor from wherever you are, go on a trip to a cyber-school site, financial donations, equipment donations, grant-writing, fundraisers, tech support, etc. The website is www.lanvwa.org. Might your voice be one of the ones that help those who have none?
President and Founder
Lan Vwa, Inc.
About Lan Vwa
Lan Vwa is connecting existing organizations with the proper tools to educate the students in their area of service in order to improve their quality of education, aid them in learning English as a foreign language, prepare them for higher education, offer continual learning support for educators in these struggling areas, and equip them with the necessary tools to achieve their full potential in life and to give back to their community. Lan Vwa wants to see communities thrive in a way which is sustainable.
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Source: Lan Vwa