One of the most pressing priorities of the community is education. Cite Soleil is a young commune; there are tens of thousands of school-aged children who have to overcome enormous obstacles in order to get an education. Within Cite Soleil, their families struggle to afford school fees, and outbreaks of violence can keep them and their teachers from physically accessing the school. If a child can afford to go to school outside of Cite Soleil, they are followed by the enormous stigma that being from Cite Soleil entails.
If Cite Soleil is going to break its cycle of violence and social marginalization, it has to invest in creating safe spaces for young people to learn, not only from books but from older youth about what it means to be a responsible citizen. There are dozens of initiatives across Cite Soleil to aim to create those spaces and provide those services, but it is not enough. Without more investment in the education of Cite Soleil’s children, Cite Soleil’s future is bleak. But because the community puts such a priority on education, small investments can go a long way in building the foundation for a better, brighter tomorrow in Cite Soleil.
A library in Cite Soleil has both practical and symbolic value. It not only provides a physical space to encourage learning, research, and growth; it is also a statement that Haiti believes in the future of the youth of Cite Soleil, and is willing to invest in them.