Hands Across the Sea
“It’s all about the Children!”
Founder/Director of Hands Across the Sea
Hands Across the Sea currently has 17 beautiful children in full-time care, ranging in age from 0-18 years, who are cared for in a loving family-style environment. We are ready to receive additional orphans as the need arises in the community. In addition to caring for children in our home, we provide support to needy children and families in the community in order to maintain the family unit whenever possible. By providing financial support, food aid and school sponsorship, we can help families care for their orphaned nieces, nephews, cousins, or siblings. Our goal is for all children to receive the loving care necessary for them to become healthy, contributing adults.
We offer a high quality education to over 500 children from preschool to grade 13 at our safe, well-constructed school campus, Institution Mixte Karen Huxter (IMKH). Registered with the Haitian Ministry of Education, our school follows the prescribed federal school curriculum, while working to incorporate modern approaches to teaching and learning. Ongoing teacher training and professional development help our teachers provide the highest quality education possible. Our school has an excellent reputation in the community and we are proud of our exceptional student success rate. Hungry children do not learn well. In order to help our students achieve their full potential, students are given a healthy, balanced hot meal mid-morning.
During the school year, we invite teachers from other community schools to participate in professional development opportunities at our school.
Hands Across the Sea is an integral part of the communities of the Artibonite valley. We employ local staff and pay fair wages as part of our commitment to building strong families and strong communities. Hands Across the Sea provides ongoing outreach to the wider community through practical assistance including emergency assistance, community development programs and community partnerships.
Hands Across the Sea partners with Radio Creole, a local radio station broadcasting commentary advocating responsibly citizenry, strong community values, Christian messages and music as well as community service updates. Visitors to Hands Across the Sea are often welcomed to share music and insights live on the radio.
We are also proud to support local community groups and youth soccer teams with soccer jerseys and balls, encouraging young men and women to get involved in healthy activity. In a country with rampant unemployment among young people and very few recreational opportunities, we are happy to offer practical support for this type of community initiative. One of our future goals is to convert land behind our school to a functional grass soccer field to be used by our school students and community groups.
Hands Across the Sea provides ongoing outreach to the wider community through practical assistance including emergency assistance, community development programs and community partnerships. To combat rising malnutrition rates, we are currently providing nutritional support to needy families through the distribution of rice, beans, cornmeal and oil. In addition, Hands Across the Sea provides emergency financial aid and clothing distribution to families in crisis. Our Christmas food program is a community development initiative that provides families in our community with a gift of food staples to help them celebrate the Christmas season.
Hands Across the Sea believes that children are the key to Haiti’s future. Our goal as an organization is to raise up and educate children to be the future leaders of the country.
Our goal as an organization is to educate children to be the future leaders of the country. Children thrive within healthy families and supportive communities.
History of Hands Across the Sea
Our history is the journey of one very special, determined woman and her dream to make a difference in Haiti. Here is the story of how Karen Huxter, our Founder and Director, made that dream a reality.
A Dream to Make a Difference
Hands Across the Sea began in May of 1995 when Karen travelled to Haiti to meet her first grandchild. Deeply moved by what she saw, she dreamed of making a difference. In June, she made plans to move to Haiti for one year and returned to Canada to pack, sell and store her belongings. By August, Karen was on her way back to Haiti to begin her dream of operating the mission.
The name "Hands Across the Sea" was chosen as Karen finalized her plans to move across the sea from Canada to Haiti in an effort to help the children. The name evolved to "Hands Across the Sea - Haiti" or "HATS - Haiti" when we realized other organizations had similar names.
In the early years from 1995-1999, Karen spent a lot of time helping an orphanage operating with next to nothing. She spent her days playing with children, praying with children, taking them baked goods, medicine, and other necessary items.
Karen also spent a great deal of time with needy families and seniors. She would provide home visits to shut in seniors, focusing especially on those who did not have family close by. She successfully raised funds in Canada and oversaw the construction of homes for families who were living on the streets.
Need for Schooling
The need for schooling in the area was tremendous. In 1997, Karen began personally funding schooling for students. With the desire to help even more children, she reached out to fellow Canadians and began coordinating school sponsors.
By 1998, Karen strongly felt the need for Hands Across the Sea to evolve into it's own orphanage and school. This was a pivotal time with soul searching. Her plans to stay for one year hand long passed and she wondered, "Am I really supposed to stay in Haiti long term and undertake this huge project?"
A Home for Children
In 1999, it had become painfully obvious there was a need to take in children desperate for a home. Up to this point, Hands Across the Sea had been based in a rented house in Borel, a town near Deschapelles. As the space was not large enough, Karen rented a 2nd house. Unfortunately the house was in very poor condition, so Karen worked with her limited funds to make it somewhat hospitable.
The first few children joined Karen in 2000.
Our Own Home
As the number of children grew, it was clear a bigger, permanent space was needed. In 1999, Karen began seriously looking for land to purchase. Finding and purchasing land does not happen quickly in Haiti. Land was purchased in three parcels in 2000, 2001 and 2002 and construction began in 2002.
In May 2004, Hands Across the Sea had a new home. Karen and the children moved from the two rental houses in Borel to the land in Deschapelles where we have continued to grow.
It was an exciting day when Hands Across the Sea moved to its new site in May 2004 with a children’s home. The following year, we began offering church services on site. Our school opened in September 2006 with one class each of grades Kindergarten to grade 6. Secondary classes were added in September of 2008.
Hands Across the Sea Today
As of October 2017, Hands Across the Sea has over 500 students in our school and continues care for children in our home. You read more about the children in our care on Our Kids page. We continue to expand our reach with continued projects and causes to help the needy children and families of Haiti. You can read more on Our Initiatives page.
We strive to keep our overhead costs low so that more of our generous donations can go to running the children’s home, school and community programs. You can read more about our financial accountability on Our Reports page.
Need More Information?
If you have questions regarding Hands Across the Sea, please contact us, General Inquiries.