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A brighter future for Haiti's children

AN AUGUST 2010 MISSION TRIP TO HAITI to clean, paint and prepare the first TeacHaiti School of Hope building for its first group of students in the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake included (left to right) Tom Klyve, Gretchen Norby, Miquette Denie (TeacHaiti founder), Annie Norby, Melissa Bergman and Lynn Hummel. Missing from photo: Jeff Norby.1 / 2
TOM KLYVE illustrates how small some of the first classrooms at the School of Hope were.2 / 2

It was about six years ago that Miquette Denie, a nurse at St. Mary's Regional Health Center (and former Rotary exchange student) first approached Detroit Lakes resident Tom Klyve about helping her set up a non-profit organization in her native Haiti, to help give its children more opportunities for a better education.

That organization, TeacHaiti, is now thriving.

On Oct. 11, 2010, the TeacHaiti School of Hope (THSH) opened its doors to 65 excited students in grades 1-4, and it became so successful in its first year of operation that it expanded to a second building, with the goal of adding one new grade level each year until it houses every grade from first through high school.

Since the organization's inception, Klyve has served as president of the TeacHaiti board of directors, and in 2010, made the trip to Haiti to help get the School of Hope facility ready for students.

This coming month, on Friday, Jan. 6, he will be returning -- but he's not going alone. Also making the journey to Haiti in January will be Klyve's fellow TeacHaiti board member, Denise Frederickson; Dr. Clayton Jensen; and Dr. Bill Henke and his wife, Nancy Henke.

During their week in Haiti, Drs. Jensen and Henke will be taking part in a temporary health clinic, seeing TeacHaiti students and their families, as well as a few residents of the neighborhood surrounding the school.

Another purpose of the trip will be to forge a relationship with other medical teams operating there.

"We're all going to be staying at a guest house owned by Medical Teams International (MTI)," Klyve says. "MTI has an interest in using our (School of Hope) buildings during the summer months, to operate medical and dental clinics.

"We want to build a good solid relationship with MTI," he adds. "We're not going to provide the (medical) teams, they just need the space to work in -- and the rent income will help TeacHaiti to complete its mission, which is the education of children.

"We also need to do some work on the second school building that we leased this year, and between the two buildings, we'd like to start working on a playground that would not only be for the schools, but for the neighborhood as well," Klyve says.

Planning for the playground -- its space and equipment needs, as well as how much money it will take to build -- is another major component of the January trip, Klyve noted.

Ultimately, however, TeacHaiti has its sights set on an even larger goal.

"Miquette's dream is to be able to build a good school, and not have to use makeshift buildings," Klyve said. "It's going to be a long campaign -- nothing happens that quickly down there -- and a lot of work, but Miquette is very focused on getting this school done."

With 8 million people in Haiti, the TeacHaiti organization is not going to be able to provide assistance for every child that needs an education, but the goal is "to help the ones we can," Klyve says.

"We've grown our number of (tuition) sponsorships every's going very well."

For more information about TeacHaiti, or to make a donation, visit the website at, send an e-mail to Miquette Denie at, or send letters to TeacHaiti, P.O. Box 1173, Detroit Lakes MN 56502.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454