La Maison de la Jeunesse
A youth empowerment center in Les Cayes, Haiti
The Republic of Haiti was the world's first black-led republic and the first independent Caribbean state when it overthrew French colonial rule in the early 19th century. Since then, the people have faced both struggles and triumph.
Gerard Gattereau, a long standing leader and entrepreneur in Les Cayes, a major seaport town in southwestern Haiti, has dedicated his life to improving his community and wanted a world where all children, youth and adults have access to education. Gerard is the president of Le Chambre De Commerce Et D’Industrie Du Sud (CCI) which aims to promote development in the South by helping local entrepreneurs, community leaders and residents develop their capacity to make their communities a better place to live and work. Gerard recognizes the vital role young people play in contributing to the future of Les Cayes and, with a group of young, inspired and passionate people, approached Sfaira about a project they had been planning for years: a simple, universally accessible youth empowerment center called La Maison De La Jeunesse.
What they envisioned was the first center in the area to provide young people with the space, resources and mentors needed to achieve their highest potential. CCI partnered with La Sale Culturelle Tirailleur, a cultural centre, to retrofit their existing building, for the centre.
On August 15, 2016, Gerard and the young people of Les Cayes opened the doors to the centre and now have access to clean water, sanitary systems, cultural activities and educational facilities and programs, all run on solar power. Youth have driven the design, creation and content of the space. A public library now supports youth in their social mobility and access to digital and print information. Weekly youth development and leadership programs will be offered to promote basic literacy skills, academic and career achievement, sustainable development and civic engagement.
Les Cayes is a commune in Les Cayes Arrondissement, in the Sud Department of Haiti. It has approximately 137,952 inhabitants, 41,930 of whom are under the age of 25 and face limited access to quality education and training, viable local employment, social services, and affordable and sustainable food.
An estimated 47.1% of people over the age of 15 are unable to read and write, as formal education rates are low and over 90% of schools are private and inaccessible to low-income families. Lack of education further limits young people’s ability to find and create employment opportunities, which contributes to a ~40.6% unemployment rate and an average per capita income of less than $2.8 USD per day. Furthermore, youth are limited in their access to information, with only six private Internet cafes and three private libraries in the area. La Maison De La Jeunesse thus aims to address these needs by providing a safe space for young people to develop the skills, knowledge and ability to become experts on local issues of importance, and to create their own lasting change in the areas of food, shelter, water, sanitation, health, energy, nature, and economic development.
La Maison De La Jeunesse aims to address the following principles of sustainability:
Build a strong and active Youth Empowerment Center and Youth Council in Les Cayes
Provide a safe, comfortable and publically accessible environment with access to high-speed information and print resources
Provide positive role models for young people
Develop and provide activities and educational programs that help young people from Les Cayes and eventually from surrounding communities to develop skills for life and sustainable development
Engage, educate and empower young people with the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to be experts on issues of importance to them, to catalyze positive change and to solve the challenges of their community.
Phase 1. Building Infrastructure: September 2015 - September 2016
Phase 2. Programming: September 2016 - September 2017
La Maison De La Jeunesse officially opened August 15, 2016.