In March of 2011, after a great deal of preparation and effort, the doors opened to The Caribbean Institute of Media Technologies’ first full-time classroom space!
The classroom has 10 learner work spaces (each with 1 Macintosh and 1 Windows computer). The space (generously loaned to us by Radio 4VEH) was masterfully renovated by our very first work team in 2009 and has since been decked out with beautiful, locally-made Haitian furniture. To this day, we get comments from our students and visitors about how lovely the space is. It is evident to all who enter; Fireside takes this task very seriously…even focusing on the smallest of details.
Presently The CIMT is operating at full capacity with an enrollment of more than 80 students! 8 of these students are our journalism students while the rest are taking foreign languages (either American English, Latin American Spanish, or French). Our student body is a diverse mix of children and adults, women, men, girls and boys, working professionals and farmers, social elites and lower class citizens, all blending together as equals in the learning process. It really is an energetic place to spend time and our students never seem to want to leave!
Since the classroom is so small (10 learner work spaces) this means that we are not yet as efficient as we need to be, but we are super grateful for what we have!
One of the most impressive parts of The CIMT is that it is well on its way to being self-supported. We currently have one full-time Haitian employee and are working to integrate a second, part-time person. In both cases, salaries are being paid entirely through tuition fees collected in Haiti by the school. It is worth mentioning here that the wages being paid are in direct compliance with the counsel we have received from many Haitian colleagues. In other words, these salaries are not just being paid by self-generated revenue; they also happen to be living wages, allowing our employees to afford a decent quality of life, on par with their own desires. I cannot begin to tell you just how wonderful this is.
Haiti needs jobs. Ask any Haitian and that’s one of the things they’ll tell you. The part that isn’t mentioned often enough is that Haiti needs jobs that are funded from within…not from the outside… and that pay a wage that can actually support a family. In very short order, The CIMT is standing as a testament to Fireside International’s commitment to truly sustainable solutions for Haitians. We’re grateful for your help with that.
As we look toward the future, we are already focused on what must come next. For starters, we are operating in borrowed space. We know that this space is not going to be available to us forever. Additionally, we were quickly aware that it’s really too small. In just a few short months, we already have a waiting list of students who are eager to attend but we don’t have room for. In a sense, this means that we’re throwing potential money into the trashcan. Until we can find a bigger space, we cannot realize the full potential of the CIMT. Because of this, we are currently looking for land to build on and are developing an intelligent plan that will allow us to scale as the need arises without the need to over-build from the outset.
While this is shaping up to be a self-sustained solution for Haitians, it hasn’t come without external investments. The 10 Macintosh computers were donated by Indiana Wesleyan University, along with a number of nice video cameras. Rosetta Stone donated a significant amount of their software and NewTek, Incorporated came alongside with significant hardware and software contributions of their own. This means that the success of the CIMT is being generated partly through external investments…not charity…but gifts that are expected to generate self-perpetuated, forward motion…and they are!
In that sense, more remains to be done.
One immediate need that we have is to pay off a debt of $4,200. This was the purchase price of the 10 Windows computers needed to run Rosetta Stone. These were an absolute necessity and have been the primary computers since we purchased them. In an effort to leave The CIMT tuition dollars in Haiti, we would really like to see this laptop bill covered by our supporters, in much the same way that others have already invested hardware and software. In the truest sense, since these laptops are already paying the salaries of Haitian employees, this really is an investment in the people of Haiti and not a hand-out or an unsustainable charity trap. If you could help us with this bill right now and continue to keep us in mind as we look for a way to expand our facilities, we would be very grateful. Please click on the donate button of your choice in the right-hand column of this page to make a contribution.
And now you’re all caught up on the news for The CIMT!
Thanks for investing the time to catch yourself up!