In Haiti, only 40 per cent of the population is taught how to read, which means that the majority of the population is illiterate. Access to education is a sweeping issue that affects millions of people. Corruption in the government and lack of funding are major systemic barriers which prevent widespread reform.“Oftentimes, people don’t have the money to start school at a young age. I met people who only began attending school at the age of 13,” explains Angela Trujillo, who first visited the country in 2014. These individuals often experience trouble finding jobs. Since this initial trip, Trujillo has been back five more times, volunteering and raising money to help those in need.
“It was shocking to see the difference between the access to education in America and the conditions for so many young children in Haiti,” says Trujillo. Students have to pay to attend school, but even sponsored students can get kicked out of their classes if they don’t have the proper socks and shoes.
Trujillo has a vision for change: to open a school “where all are welcome.” The school will be located on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. “I want to create a place where Haitians can thrive and learn and grow,” Trujillo says. Her goal is to create a school to help break the cycle of poverty that exists in Haiti. Fundraising efforts are already underway. To augment the process, Trujillo wrote her first-ever children’s book Elizabeth Gets Healed (Halo), with proceeds going towards this cause.
Elizabeth Gets Healed was inspired by Trujillo’s own childhood. When she was six years old, she was diagnosed with amblyopia, commonly referred to as lazy eye, which she was eventually able to overcome. “This is my testimony for children who face an obstacle in their path,” the author explains. “I want to empower children in America, and for them to know that they are contributing to the education of a child in Haiti.” ◊