Updated: Jul 4, 2021
Sonje Ayiti (Remember Haiti)
Written by: Bijoux Abellard
Photographed by: Ketlain Difficile
Sonje Ayiti is Haitian Creole for “Remember Haiti”. Sonje Ayiti is an organization formed by a group of international humanitarians working together to uplift Haitian communities through education, development, and promoting health, especially in the rural areas of Haiti. Sonje Ayiti manages several initiatives such as Kore Manman Pou Klere Timoun, Chimen Lavi Miyò (CLM) 18-month graduation program, and in partnership with Entre Les Pages (ELP) an enrichment program called Klere Timoun Pou Klere Lavni.
After the earthquake on January 12, 2010, Sonje Ayiti founded CIMA Community School of Hope on September 12, 2011, a school in the Northern region of Limonade, Haiti. CIMA is now responsible for 323 students from preschool to 9th grade and employs 35 staff members.
Sonje Ayiti is currently implementing an 18-month graduation program to help low-income families find their path out of poverty by developing productive assets, thereby boosting their self-esteem, confidence and driving them towards success. Sonje Ayiti also manages a seed bank providing local farmers with various seeds to boost the economy and provide for their long-term future. As a result, farmers can grow their produce, curtailing their dependency on imported goods; increasing their income. The organization also runs a chicken goat which creates a cycle of giving by selling the by-products created by these animals.
Every Saturday, during the summer & holidays, Sonje Ayiti holds an enrichment program presented by Klere Timoun, a group of university undergrad volunteers. They help and encourage the children to exhibit their talents through dances, arts, theater, crafts, paintings, and culinary arts. Sonje Ayiti is about supporting families and the community as a whole. Sustaining the children without helping their families is not an option; this led to Kore Manman. Kore Manman was created to elevate mothers because they, too, need to be uplifted.
Around five hundred individuals in eleven communes are being mentored, educated, and trained to use their entrepreneurial skills to create finances for themselves and their families. In addition, Sonje Ayiti provides ongoing training and awareness campaigns on preventative messages about sexual abuse, unwanted pregnancies, family planning, sexually transmitted diseases, hygiene, water and sanitation, COVID, and a nutrition program.
Gabrielle Aurel is the Founder and the brain of Sonje Ayiti. She was born and raised in Au Cap, Haiti.
In 2004 after bumping into an old classmate during a visit to Haiti, she was shocked by their living conditions. Ms. Aurel wanted to make a difference and felt that her place and duty were in Haiti. She could see herself in their shoes; “it could have been me,” stated Ms. Aurel. It was then that she realized that Haiti needed her, and she decided to relocate to Haiti to run Sonje Ayiti permanently.
Gabie is motivated by the grit of the Haitian people. Being in Haiti has humbled her. She is now more patient and sees life through different lenses.
As Cima School of Hope celebrates its tenth anniversary, Sonje Ayiti's long-term goal is to continue to provide the necessary tools for Haitians to support themselves and their families. Additionally, the organization wants to do more. Sonje Ayiti intends to have a greater outreach by extending its programs and services to other rural parts of Haiti.
Remembering Haiti by encouraging the locals to work, building a better Haiti, and paving the way for people in rural Haiti is why Gabrielle Aurel is a Fanm Potomitan.
To donate to Sonje Ayiti click on this link.