On a recent trip to her native Haiti, Charlot was invited to visit the Kafou Chada region of Croix des Bouquets – a low-income district still in ruins after the devastating 2010 earthquake. She was introduced to a local pastor who was struggling to educate 150 neighborhood children after their school was destroyed. Charlot’s heart broke for the children in Kafou Chada, and her mission became clear: She would earn money to rebuild the school by doing what she does best – designing handbags from recycled materials!
Discovering the school
Like many regions of Haiti, Kafou Chada was virtually leveled by the 2010 earthquake. Most homes and buildings were completely destroyed, including the neighborhood school.
Following the quake, a young pastor from the community constructed a makeshift structure to hold classes – a one-room schoolhouse made mostly of metal sheeting, Charlot says. The school has no windows, no bathroom and only two small doors.
During the day, as many as 75 children are crammed into the tiny schoolhouse at once. After about 9 a.m., the heat becomes so unbearable that instructors often take the children outside for classes – giving lessons on a chalkboard wall set up on a neighboring building, the artist recalls.
“The kids don’t even have shoes to wear or clothes,” Charlot remembers sadly. “I really need to do something for them just to help out.”
Many of the students, some as old as 13, have never attended school before. The pastor and other volunteers do their best to teach them how to read and write and provide meals when funds allow, as the students’ parents are often too poor to feed them daily.
“I know in my heart that I can help those kids,” Charlot says. “I know they can be somebody tomorrow. Maybe in the future, they will be able to feed themselves and buy a pair of shoes to put on.”