Education  Haiti Project #26674

Support 50 Excellent Students in Cite Soleil

by SAKALA (Sant Kominote Altenativ ak Lape)
Support 50 Excellent Students in Cite Soleil
Student at SAKALA learning to write
Student at SAKALA learning to write

   The school year is off to a great start at SAKALA in Cité Soleil, Haiti!

   We want to thank you for taking part in our effort to have a designated fund just for students who overcome all obstacles and excel in school, demonstrating great grades and character.

    We found that after the first year it was difficult to have enough funds to pay for the kind of program we would want for our Ekselans! kids. We have decided to formally end the project on Global Giving. Instead, we will fold the Ekselans! ("excellence" in Haitian Creole) activities into our general budget, while always being on the lookout for ways to provide resources to bring out the potential of each and every child.

    At SAKALA that has always meant providing tuition assistance to parents so they don't have to choose between school or food for their children. It has always meant providing after school tutoring, peace-through-sports programs, and Haiti's largest urban garden.

   None of those things will stop with the formal close of this project on Global Giving and we invite you to follow SAKALA's progress and donate at our website (, on Facebook, or -- even better -- come and visit. You are always welcome.

   And, of course, stay tuned for SAKALA's next project on Global Giving.

   The picture you see here is of a little boy in the act of learning to write. He is not technically one of the Ekselans! kids because he has not been in school long enough yet to have a report card showing all As. But, thanks to SAKALA, and its generous donors (like you), this boy and many others are going to school for the first time. And it won't be long before this generation of students make our world's leaders, doctors, engineers, lawyers, and artists --whatever they dream of becoming.

   Thank you so much for helping to make those dreams come true at SAKALA where our motto is "With a dream, anything is possible."

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Bernard, a top SAKALA student, teaches chess
Bernard, a top SAKALA student, teaches chess

Daniel Tillias, the leader of the SAKALA community center, is already anxious about August.

That’s the time of year where parents from Cité Soleil line up at SAKALA looking for help to pay their children’s school fees for the new year. Education is a priority for them, but with an average monthly income of $30 a month you can see how school competes with basics like food and shelter.

These parents come to SAKALA hoping we can help them make ends -- that are too too far apart – meet.

But the need in Cité Soleil is greater than SAKALA’s resources and we can’t say yes to everyone.

So while this school year has not yet ended, Daniel is already worried about the next.

This is especially true for the top students in the Ekselans! program. If they can make top grades despite all the obstacles they face living in one of the poorest, most stigmatized neighborhoods of Haiti, we need to do everything we can to help them succeed.

Next year we hope to expand our current group of about 25 students in Ekselans! to 50. We won’t know the final number for sure until August when we have students take an entrance exam for the program.

We would like to make sure that every student who has worked hard to make good grades will have the financial support they need to continue to excel in school.

We need your help to do this.

In the meantime, we couldn’t be prouder of our Ekselans! students as they finish the school year on top.

The Ekselans! program is not just about providing financial resources, at SAKALA we are always also looking to provide enrichment activities. This year Ekselans! students have taken part in English classes, special field trips, and chess tournaments.

It is SAKALA’s new chess club that has us especially excited. A couple of months ago Daniel heard about a chess tournament coming up and decided that, despite having never played before, our Ekselans! students should take part.

Some doubters said that seemed a little fast. But Daniel knows our Ekselans! kids are always up for a challenge!

So, starting with YouTube videos on chess basics, the students settled in to learn. They quickly took to the game, loving the strategic twists and turns. It’s not unusual to see the students playing chess together long after the official club hours are over.

In his first tournament, Bernard – who we first introduced to you at the start of the project – won a match, despite only having played a couple of weeks.

Today a chess match, tomorrow the world.

Help us make sure these top students have what they need to continue to learn and lead. The future could not be in better hands.

And, if you find yourself in Haiti, pop over to SAKALA for a game of chess! :)

Thank you for your generosity to SAKALA in the past. Please consider making a donation today of $25 or more to help make sure the Ekselans! program is in great shape for the coming year!

Have a great summer!



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Bernard, a top student in the Ekselans! program
Bernard, a top student in the Ekselans! program

The students in SAKALA’s Ekselans! program are still going strong in their second semester of school. With your help, we were able to help their parents not only keep them in school, but thrive there.

As we look ahead to fundraising for the program for the next school year, I will leave you with some words from some of SAKALA’s kids:

My name is Bernard. I live in a family of six people and I want to tell you it’s difficult for us. I can’t thank SAKALA enough for its support because saying thanks is not enough. Without SAKALA’s help, today I would be in the streets without education. SAKALA permits me to continue to go to school. I do well too because they have people to help me with my homework and lessons. I want to always work well in school so that one day I can become a good agronomist     

I am Douby. I am 13. I am living in a family of five people. My mom has a factory job so we have food in the house. I am very happy with the support SAKALA gives me so I can continue to go to school because I know education is the foundation of change. Thanks so much to SAKALA because it gives me help with my homework and lessons so I can continue in school and one day be a great agronomist.

    I am Chimgnayton. I am 13. I live in a rented house with a family of six people. My mother doesn’t have a job. I have a stepfather who is helping us a little when he can. I don’t know how to show my gratitude to SAKALA for its support because through the grace of SAKALA I can continue to go to school and SAKALA has people to work with us on our homework and lessons every day. I am happy today because I see I can always go to school. Each day I see many children in my neighborhood who can never go to school because their parents can’t afford it. I want to continue to work in school so that one day I can become a great engineer and mechanic.

    As always, mèsi anpil anpil (thanks so very very much in Haitian Creole). Please continue to support excellent students in Citè Soleil.



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SAKALA Ekselans! student
SAKALA Ekselans! student

Our first group of 25 Ekselans! (Excellence in Haitian Creole) students are finishing up a great fall semester -- thanks to you.

Not only did you help pay the school fees for 25 excellent students from Cite Soleil (one of Haiti's poorest urban areas), your support meant SAKALA was able to help out in the special circumstances that sometimes keep our kids -- who are rich in intelligence, but poor in material wealth -- from being able to stay in school.

A few examples of that:

One day a boy, seeing SAKALA's leader, Daniel Tillias, was about to leave for the day, ran up to his car, distraught. His school had moved up the date that tuition was due for the fall semester. If he didn't pay on time, he couldn't enroll. His family didn't have the money and in another year maybe SAKALA wouldn't have either. But, because of your support, SAKALA had a fund just for such emergencies. The boy's family was able to pay the tuition and he was able to go to school.

Later in the semester, Daniel noticed another of the Ekselans! students was at SAKALA during the school day. He asked her why she wasn't in school. The school had added an extra fee that had to be paid and she didn't have the money. Because of you, SAKALA was able to pay the fee and get her back excelling in school.

Another student was accepted to a good school outside of Cite Soleil, but his family -- who does not have a car--  did not have the money to pay for needed transportation. Because of you, SAKALA was able to get him on the road to a great education.

Need more proof of you impact, check out the smile of one of our Ekselans! students in the picture above. She is over-the-moon happy after having been recognized by a former first lady of Haiti.

We at SAKALA our grateful for that smile and for our students' hard work that makes them so worthy of your support. We are still accepting donations to help keep them and many other worthy students in school.

Mesi anpil anpil (Haitian Creole for thank you so much) for your past and continued support!

We wish you and your family a joyous holiday season and happy new year!

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Students taking exam for SAKALA's Ekselans program
Students taking exam for SAKALA's Ekselans program

It's the first week of school in Haiti and top students in Cite Soleil have started hitting -- and with your help -- paying for their books.

That includes Bernard who you met earlier this year. Bernard earns top grades in all subjects and has dreams of being an agronomist some day to help along Haiti's good food revolution.

The money you have so generously donated is being used by parents and families to help pay for tuition (most students in Haiti go to private schools because the public school system doesn't have enough capacity), books (most students in Haiti have to pay for their own books), school uniforms, and school supplies.

Recently, 79 students who had applied to the Ekselans! program were given grade level tests to supplement the information we had from their school report cards.

SAKALA is reviewing the exam results now. Many of the students struggled to get top marks on the exam despite doing well in school so we are looking at whether we need to adust the criteria to be accepted into the Ekselans! program -- something that maintains the program's commitment to encouraging excellence while allowing more children to participate.

Stay tuned! As the school year progresses we will have more personal stories of the dreams you're empowering and the excellence you are inspiring!

Mèsi anpil! (Thanks very much in Haitian Creole. :) )

Bernard, Ekselans! student
Bernard, Ekselans! student
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Organization Information

SAKALA (Sant Kominote Altenativ ak Lape)

Location: CIte Soleil - Haiti
Twitter: @sakala haiti
Daniel Tillias
Project Leader:
Daniel Tillias
CIte Soleil, Haiti

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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