Helping Schools in Haiti

Ohio student Abbey Windham (center) visits with students in Haiti. 

“I have a passion to help the children in Haiti,” says Abbey Windham.

The 18-year-old student, who recently graduated from Lake High School in Uniontown, Ohio, shipped more than 1,000 desks, chairs, and other supplies to the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince last summer. 

Abbey and her family had been longtime sponsors of TeacHaiti. The program offers support for school-age children in the Caribbean country, which is one of the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. Since government funding is limited, many schools charge tuition.

TeacHaiti was founded in 2007 by Miquette Deni McMahon, whose own family struggled to pay the tuition bills when she was a child. The initial goal of the organization was to match students in the struggling country with sponsors who could help pay tuition costs.

But in 2010, a catastrophic earthquake struck Haiti, killing more than 300,000 people. Many of the country’s schools were destroyed. In response, TeacHaiti built a school in Port-au-Prince and, later, a second school in Saint-Michel-de-l’Attalaye.



After seeing photographs of the destruction caused by the earthquake, Abbey felt the need to visit the country. “When I arrived in Haiti, I instantly fell in love,” she said. “Everyone was so kind.”

In the summer of 2018, the Lake Local School District in Ohio was auctioning off old furniture and equipment before moving into new buildings. Abbey saw this as an opportunity to send a few desks and chairs to TeacHaiti. She started a GoFundMe page, “hoping that people would help pay for the items and transportation expenses.”

Abbey was overwhelmed by the response. She raised more than $17,000 online. “My school and community responded very generously,” Abbey said. 


Nolan recently spoke with Abbey about her efforts to help students in Haiti. 


Abbey was able to acquire 500 chairs, 300 desks, 120 tables, 83 computers, 14 interactive whiteboards, 7 television sets, and other supplies at the Ohio auction. The school district also donated gently-used textbooks, laptops, maps, and cabinets.

“Several friends helped me move all of the items into a shipping container,” Abbey explained. Last summer, the shipment traveled 1,600 miles from Ohio to Haiti, by both truck and boat. 

Students at TeacHaiti’s two new “Schools of Hope” have just completed their first academic year with the donated equipment.

“Our students are so proud to tell their friends about their school,” McMahon said. “They feel like a million bucks.”


Top photo courtesy of Abbey Windham; bottom photo courtesy of the author