Hope in Canaan

The ground trembled beneath them and, in an instant, they lost everything.

The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere experienced its most devastating natural disaster ever and the damage was catastrophic. Close to 250,000 souls perished. More than 300,000 individuals were injured. Another 1.5 million people were forced to live in makeshift internally displaced person camps.

A 7.0-magnitude earthquake shook Haiti on the afternoon of January 12, 2010 and, for many Haitians, their world forever changed.

But while the earthquake took many things that day, there was one thing that was left untouched: hope.

Haitians from all over the country began to pour into the capital, Port-au-Prince, and its surrounding areas, hoping to regroup and restart their lives. Canaan, just on the outskirts of the city, was one of the first places many began to call home.

“First there were around 7,000 residents,” says Sister Dinah Sánchez, director of Fe y Alegría Canaan Community Primary School. “Now it’s impossible to tell because people keep arriving, looking for a better life.”

“People have to hope. People want to grow, to move forward,” Sánchez said. “This is Canaan … the promised land. And that’s what we want it to be … the land of promises and hope.”

Part of that hope is rooted in education for the community’s children and youth. “Our mission is to provide for the children so that they are well, feel happy, calm, nourished … we want our school to be a welcoming and safe space,” says Sánchez.

Watch the video below to learn about “Fe y Alegría Canaan“.

Mothers Promoting Peace

The first time Luisa Pernalete had to bury a student killed by gun violence, the pain was indescribable.

Class president Miguel Ángel Rodríguez was walking down the street with his family in Guayana (southern Venezuela) when the 11 year-old was shot and killed while trying to defend his father from a mugging.

“Do you know what it’s like to bury … I’m a teacher, I’ve been a teacher my entire life. To bury a student is something you can’t describe,” Pernalete says. “It can’t be normal that a teacher buries her students … they should be burying me. I’m old!”

But Miguel was not the last student she would go on to bury.

After years of increasing violence in her community, Pernalete, an educator and human rights defender who has worked with Fe y Alegría for over three decades, decided that they had to do something.

Despite all of the work that Fe y Alegría had done over the past 60 years in some of the most marginalized and vulnerable communities of Venezuela, like those in Guayana, it didn’t seem like it was enough.

What were they not doing? What was missing? How would they address this brutal violence in their communities?

Mothers who promote peace.

Watch the video below to learn about “Mothers Promoting Peace”.