Happy International Women’s Day from Foi et Joie Haiti!

For us, Women’s Day is about the struggle for justice, but it’s also about celebrating the amazing women who are the pillars of Foi et Joie, and supporting girls so they can thrive in our schools.

As a Jesuit-led work, Foi et Joie Haiti takes gender equity seriously, starting with who makes the decisions. Most of our schools are directed by women, and the coordination team at the national level is made up of two women and two men. We have just completed a project financed by the Spanish development agency, AECID, to bring gender equity to our classrooms. And in our day-to-day culture, we make it a point to ensure equal access to sports programs and other activities.

Today in particular, we also want to recognize and celebrate the strong and caring women that are at the heart of Foi et Joie: the mothers who get their kids ready for school before setting off to the market, the teachers and staff who encourage, challenge and nurture students to help them become their best selves …

And we want to give a special shout out to the religious sisters – seven female religious congregations are an integral part of Foi et Joie Haiti – who move heaven and earth to improve every aspect of our schools, as well as nation-wide pedagogy and pastoral ministry programs. The sisters also implement local development projects, like health clinics and micro-finance cooperatives, but perhaps their most important contribution is in how they witness to the Gospel through their simple lifestyle in community. They show us what it means to live and work together as people with a purpose.

At the same time, we are aware of the wounds in our world, and of how violence affects women and girls in particular ways. For this reason, we have implemented the Luz de las Niñas program from the Spanish NGO, Entreculturas-Fe y Alegría Spain, as a pilot project in three of our schools. The program places psychologists in the schools to work especially with girls who have survived different types of abuse. The psychologists also run workshops and other activities with the entire school community, including the families, to strengthen our resolve to protect children from violence, and our ability to build a healthy and peaceful society. We are currently preparing an advocacy campaign based on this experience, and we are hoping to expand it to the rest of our schools.

On the road to equal rights for women and men, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Foi et Joie is happy to be a part of that movement, which is also a space of inspiration and joy. And we thank our supporters for walking that road together with us.

-Fr. Emilio Travieso, S.J.
Assistant Director, Foi et Joie Haiti