In Haiti, a 6-year-old orphaned girl named Jenika dreams of becoming a doctor. Ken Agle, founder of the public charity Pathways to English, met her a year ago when she first entered the Corner of Heaven Orphanage in St. Marc. When he talks to her he “believes everything she says because she has integrity.” Ken remarks, “If you asked me a year ago if it was possible for an orphan to ever become a doctor, I would have said no . . . now she has a great chance.”
The first time that Ken went to Haiti was 1983–1984 for a volunteer opportunity. The people impressed him so much that he continued to go back to visit. He saw a great need for education there, and he didn’t know how to solve it until 2014, when he realized that if the children “had English then they could definitely get better jobs” to move out of poverty.
In 2015, Ken sent his son, Davis Agle, to Haiti to see how Davis would withstand the country. Ken remarks, “He didn’t know anything about Haiti, and if Davis can make it, then that might be good to allow [volunteer] college students to go.” While Davis was in Haiti, Ken learned about the International Language Program (ILP), a program that brings volunteer college students to teach English to the less fortunate.
Because of the International Language Program, Jenika would be given what she really wanted—an opportunity to learn. In April 2017, ILP created a new humanitarian project for volunteers to teach English in Haiti.
According to a 2013 Harvard Business Review, countries with English as a second language have better economies and thus better living conditions. “Haiti is the poorest [country] in the western hemisphere by a long ways,” said Ken.
The lack of funds and natural disasters have left four out of five Haitians homeless or struggling for their next meal. By learning English, Haitian children will be given the ability to learn science, film, technology, aviation, medicine, and business, which would help them search for jobs in multinational companies both within and outside of the country. Like any domino effect, more jobs equal more income, which can then lead to improved living conditions.
Currently, most Haitians lack basic first-world luxuries like warm showers, clean clothing, and mattresses, not to mention the inconsistency in electricity, trash services, and road care. English will give the Haitian people the potential to break educational barriers that have kept their nation a third world country.
Other children in Haiti have similar desires as Jenika, and Pathways to English and the International Language Program give them a chance to reach their goals. “They [the children] are like a dry, dry sponge begging for water,” said Ken. “There’s such a drought for good teaching.”
— Ashley Stevens