Posted by: universallearningcentreblog | November 22, 2011

Blog, Guilt & a Guesthouse

You may have noticed the lack of posts lately on the blog.  Sorry for that!  All I can say is that honestly, I have no desire to write for the blog when I’m writing grant proposals and web content all day.  I really wish I did because the blog is way more fun!  There is so much to tell you and it makes me feel guilty for not writing and keeping you all up to date on what’s going on with ULC!  I’ll do my best this holiday season to post details about all the goings on, but please forgive me for not being very consistent!I

So, just a short post today with some news about the site in Pilate, Haiti.


As you hopefully recall, we started construction on a guesthouse this year.  The 2-acre parcel of land was donated by Pilate resident Albert Jean and his brothers.  It’s a gorgeous, lush piece of land. Below, the hill leading up from the river is at the back of the property.

The guesthouse is about 60% complete, and we are fundraising to complete the construction which is more costly than we had expected.  Construction costs in Haiti are incredibly hard to estimate for many reasons, and despite diligent planning and cost reducing efforts, our project budget will probably be double what we expected.  We expect the main floor to be completed in the spring of 2012, depending on funding, and eventually we plan on building a second floor as demand requires.

ON A SIDE NOTE:  If you are interested in contributing to the efforts, please visit our website at to pay online or email me at for our mailing address. We do have IRS 501c3 designation so you will be able to use it as a tax deduction.  With the end of the year coming quickly, you may want one more chance to make a charitable contribution by December 31st, and we will be happy to help you out with that!  

Below, a picture of the construction as of last month.  The pictures were taken by Albert Jean, who happens to be ULC Founder Jacques Jean’s father, on a trip he took this fall.  He is kind beyond words and on each of his multiple trips to Haiti every year, has spent time checking progress, dealing with construction issues, and just generally being as helpful as he could possibly be.  He and his brothers had planned on building a home on this site but after the earthquake, they had a change of heart, deciding that ULC’s goal of building a new facility in Pilate to replace our leased space was more important than building themselves a vacation/retirement home.  We are so very grateful!


Below, another view of the guesthouse.  Notice the power line on the left side of the picture.  Not reliable in any sense of the word, this line provides no electricity and hasn’t in many, many years. Our guesthouse is the building on the right while the smaller structure on the left, just under the power line, was previously a government owned generator station which no longer functions.

Everyone’s really proud of this little gadget, a cement mixer and another generous gift from Albert Jean.  Other than the mixer, which hasn’t actually been used yet, there is little that the workers do requiring electricity.  No nail guns, no drills, no circular saws.  All work is done the “old-fashioned” way.


This bad boy is up next on our list of purchases.  We need a generator for many reasons, including construction, but what we are really excited about is using this for our Internet project.  Without it, we will not be able to establish an Internet connection, and really, what is a library without the Internet nowadays?!  It’s hard to accept that we have five laptops donated by Harvard University Basic Science Partnership that are sitting in the library without being used because we have no Internet, because we have no electricity, because we have no generator.


I’m not the most patient person in the world (anyone who knows me is rolling their eyes and shaking their heads about now) so it kills me knowing those laptops are not being used and that electricity and Internet should be a quick and easy project, but isn’t.  And I sit here pretty spoiled in my comfortable home, completely wired in to a bunch of technology requiring electricity (tv, laptop, iPod dock, not to mention the more necessary things like the fridge and the stove), feeling more than a little impatient, with undertones of guilt. I should probably get back to writing those grant proposals…



  1. Installing electricity should be quick and easy, but unfortunately it isn’t in many places of the world… But look on the bright side! Look at how much you have accomplished so far! Even though you have to wait for the generator or electricity to be installed, it’s not as if you weren’t doing anything about it… I see here so many kind people have shown so much generosity so I know that soon you will be able to have those laptops running! I wish I could contribute in a more substantial way, unfortunately there is a situation here in Temacapulìn that we are struggling with raising some funds as well. My best wishes and thoughts go out to you and this project :)! It is a remarkable thing that you do!

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