UC Davis Blum Center Launches Support for Student Initiative in Haiti

Blum Photo - In the community
Photo Credit: Ann Prepare Lavni

In 2011 Carolina Taverez received a grant from the Blum Center as an undergraduate student to hold Spanish classes for Haitians in the border community of Anse-a-Pitres. Market vendors needed Spanish language skills to interact with their main customers from the Dominican Republic but there were few places to take classes.

During her summer, Carolina taught children as well as adults in evening and weekend programs that she organized outside a local school. Talking with her students, she learned that the town did not have a library and many yearned for books and other materials to read. Being an exceptional entrepreneur, Carolina met with the public authorities and convinced them to give her more than an acre of land on which to build a library, and then convinced an architectural engineering firm in the Dominican Republic to design a seismically secure structure that would be the library.

early plans for library

Early foundations for the Anse-a-Pitres community library.

When she returned to UC Davis, Carolina and her sister, Ann, started a foundation called Ann Prepare Lavni to build the library in 2012. The Blum Center later provided Carolina with another grant as a UC Davis graduate student to return to Haiti. Working with the community, they built the foundation, floor, walls, windows, doors, and rafters, but lacked funding to complete a permanent roof.

Having completed her graduate degree at UC Davis, Carolina went back to Haiti to teach only to witness the effects of the disastrous Hurricane Matthew, which destroyed structures including the roof of the library.

To help rebuild from the wreckage, the Blum Center has launched a fundraising campaign via GoFundMe, to help raise funds to replace the roof of the library which has become a central part of the Anse-a-Pitres community.