WHAT BEGAN THE VISION
Our founder, Jim Bryson traveled with a group of individuals from Nashville to Port au Prince, Haiti to help in the wake of the devastating earthquake in 2010. Many individuals lost their lives and the quake left more than 20,000 orphans. Jim knew there would be a tremendous need to help these orphans and their education. This began the vision for The Joseph School. The initial purpose of the school was to partner with orphanages who often only educate children through 6th grade by providing an secondary school option for orphans. During the first five years, we started building in Lascaobas on the plateau in eastern Haiti. Because of a land dispute, TJS abandoned that property and began to seek new partners.
Meanwhile, Bildad Michel, a young Haitian, studying at Cumberland University where he had a TJS Board Member, Josh Hayden, as a professor. This is where Bildad learned about the plans to start a school in Haiti. Bildad knew firsthand the lack of school opportunities there and the difficulty of just being a child there. Most children find themselves working for their families, doing daily chores, and raising siblings. Public schools are expensive to attend with the additional cost of uniforms, books, and food. As a child, Bildad had dreamed of building a school where children would be free to be children, learning, and building community. After hearing about the plans for The Joseph School, he convinced the Board that a better model would be to serve younger children. At Bildad’s urging, the Board decided to start with 1st grade rather than 7th grade as previously planned.
In early June, 2015 the Board commissioned Bildad to spend the summer in Haiti developing the resources and capabilities for opening a school near Bildad’s hometown of Minotre. By that August, there was a pathway to completion of the school, which opened in September with 2 classrooms, 30 students and 2 teachers.
Today with some alterations, the model continues.