Thursday, September 16, 2010

How Much Is A Picture Worth?

Benito and "Little Benito"
As the saying goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words." But this picture represents much more than words to this little boy and to the staff and volunteers of Partners' Farmer to Farmer Program. In this photo, pictured are Benito Jasmin, FTF Haiti Country Coordinator, and the child of one of the farmers who receives training through the Farmer to Farmer Program in Haiti. The boy's school fees are paid with the income his family receives from raising rabbits.

So what is that worth? In Benito's words, his whole life depends on it. In Haiti, the vast majority of schools (around 92%) are private and children cannot go to school unless they pay the required fees. With the poverty that is so rampant in Haiti, this means that nearly the majority of children are not enrolled in school. As written in a July 2010 report from the US Institute of Peace
"According to the 2002–03 education census cited by the World Bank, only 8 percent of Haitian schools were public, while approximately 92 percent were privately owned and financed, meaning they were tuition-based in most cases. Because of Haiti’s extreme poverty, most schools were unaffordable and therefore inaccessible to the majority of families. In fact, only 55 percent of children aged six to twelve were enrolled in school, and less than one-third of those enrolled reached the fifth grade."
Following the earthquake and the financial strain it has put on Haitian families, we can only imagine how low enrollment rates must be today, not to mention the fact that many schools have been destroyed. The chance to go to school means a lot for this little boy, his future, and the future of Haiti. He must understand the opportunity he is given to a certain extent as well - after all, he wants to legally change his name to "Benito"! And of course, in addition to what he learns in school, "little Benito" has learned a great deal about rabbit raising along the way.

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