How my school in Haiti is using mindfulness to help poor children

I am sharing some exciting news. I am in the process of building a not-for-profit that will provide an innovative educational model for the poorest children in Haiti. 

To begin, when I was a little girl visiting my father in Haiti, I always felt like something was very wrong. I would see children barely five or six years old chasing after my dad’s car in the middle of the night.

They frantically ran after the old Toyota in hopes of earning some spare change. When he explained to me that these children were so poor they could not afford to have a childhood, I vowed that when I was older I would come back to Haiti to create positive change in their lives.

Two years ago, I was chosen as an Intel for Change Ambassador for girls’ educational issues. I was flown to India (see picture at foot) where I filmed a documentary on the barriers faced by children in the developing world.

Incorporating my experience in India and knowledge of NGO institutions, I began to think of creating my own non-profit to tackle education, or the lack thereof.  After graduating from Emory University in December of 2014, I moved to Haiti to teach mindfulness and wellness methods to children and start building my organisation.

Although there have been many challenges such as a lack of running water, electricity and much political unrest, I have never felt more passionate about anything in my life!

Merkabah International Foundation is a non-profit that aims to implement an educational system that truly prepares children to excel in our ever-changing society. Using earth citizenship and mindfulness training as its premise, children will learn to excel mentally, physically and emotionally.

Built with tyres and plastic bottles, the school will use solar energy to power itself and grow its own vegetation using greenhouse technology. This will enable them to have an alliance with their highest selves as well as to the planet.

With small classroom sizes of no more than six children per teacher, students will learn through individualised attention and lesson plans. Working with educational innovators such as Rex Miller, who study how spaces and environments shape student success, will truly prepare students to excel in every aspect of their lives. 

As of now, my children have been introduced to mindfulness. Even while living in poverty, at only five years old they are learning the importance of having dreams, of releasing anxiety through the body and are on their way to true self-mastery.

They are starting to understand how to create positive emotions through integrating and releasing painful memories and are truly better prepared to navigate through life.

Currently, we have secured free legal representation in both Haiti and the United States to help us file for NGO status and have volunteers working to help make this dream a reality. However, we are still in the beginning stages of building Merkabah and much support is required to meet the financial and institutional needs of implementing this new educational model in Haiti.

For potential partnerships, volunteer services and general information about Merkabah, please email me at [email protected].

When we invest in the children of the world, we save our own lives. Seeing the smiling faces of my class of first graders after just a few weeks of mindfulness training proved to me that the work we are doing is powerful enough to change the world.

Within the sparkle in their eyes lie the answers and solutions to our greatest humanitarian barriers. With a proper educational curriculum that addresses personal, interpersonal and intellectually development, these children will be prepared to succeed in creating a prosperous future for our planet. Self-empowerment is the key to unlocking this potential.