Aura and Jump Ventures founder and CEO Hari Ravichandran is a longtime supporter of Artists for Peace and Justice (APJ).
Through its Academy for Peace & Justice and other efforts, the organization works to build and enhance the educational infrastructure in Haiti, one of the world’s most under-resourced nations. Through his Ravichandran Foundation, Hari Ravichandran made a contribution of $250,000 to APJ in 2018. The contribution funded the construction of a much-needed science lab at the Academy.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, he has continued to support vital programs for the organization. Funding from Mr. Ravichandran was recently used to donate 125 iPads to students at the Academy for Peace & Justice. The school has acknowledged his long-standing support with a plaque next to one of its classrooms, and a group of students recorded a special “thank you” video in February 2021.
This gift of mobile technology during a time of widespread disruption of educational routines is particularly meaningful. The iPads keep students connected to regular classwork and their support networks of teachers and fellow students. In addition to this donation, the APJ team is in regular contact with the academy’s headmaster to follow up on other emerging needs as the pandemic continues.
Fighting inequality through education
The mission of APJ is both simple and comprehensive: to alleviate the effects of global poverty while fostering systems that contribute to social justice and lasting peace. Particularly focused on Haiti, APJ currently runs programs that provide high-quality educational and job-training opportunities in creative fields to some of the Caribbean island nation’s poorest communities.
The Academy for Peace & Justice is a secondary school located on a seven-acre site in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. The school came about after the devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake that hit the country in January 2010. The earthquake, and the humanitarian crisis it escalated, were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and the near-razing of Port-au-Prince. In the aftermath, APJ focused not only on supporting immediate disaster relief, but also on the long-term goal of supporting education in the country.
Built to provide a safe, nurturing haven following one disaster, the Academy for Peace & Justice continues to support students during the present pandemic crisis. The school serves a current enrollment of around 3,500 students.
In addition, the school focuses on identifying and working with some of Port-Au-Prince’s most at-risk and struggling young people in need of a strong educational program for their middle and high school years. Its success represents a notable accomplishment, given that most of Haiti’s students are unable to continue their schooling beyond about the fifth grade.
A future and a refuge
A video tribute to APJ’s work features moving personal testimonials from some of the students who have seen their lives and futures transformed by their attendance at the Academy for Peace & Justice. One young man, William, remembered his deep sorrow after his father was murdered when he was only seven years old. William’s mother died when he was 10. Struggling to come to terms with this double loss, he found a safe and welcoming home, thanks to APJ.
William and his brother have cultivated their passion and skill as musicians, and the two have plans to use their musical gifts to improve life in Haiti. The brothers have even composed a song in honor of their parents, inspired by the strength they’ve given each other.
“The school is our future,” William says in the video. “It is our refuge.”
APJ’s leaders and members believe that young people everywhere have the right to enjoy the liberty to build and create, to fashion meaningful lives for themselves and their families, and to take advantage of equal opportunities for learning and growth.
Powered by innovation and creativity
The related APJ Artists Institute offers technical support and professional-level job training to young adults in Haiti’s music and film production industry.
Located in the southern coastal city of Jacmel, the Institute is equipped with video editing and audio recording facilities, and serves as a welcoming haven for creative young people striving to fulfill their artistic vision. The institute’s graduates often go on to command salaries many times higher than Haiti’s typical annual income, helping in this way to build both individual and national generational wealth. Among other awards and recognitions, the Institute won an Emmy Award in 2014.
APJ’s other programs include Brilliant Is Beautiful, which offers life-changing scholarships and professional development opportunities to about 1,500 girls and women in Haiti. The organization is working to grow this program beyond Haiti’s borders by forging partnerships with groups working on the ground in Uganda, Pakistan, and Peru.
A wide network of support from creative professionals
A range of celebrities, activists, business leaders, and other accomplished arts professionals support the organization, and many have stayed committed to its work for more than a decade. In a single Festival Gala in September 2019, APJ raised more than $1 million to support its work in Haiti.
Operating on the belief that each person is endowed with the creative spirit and power to improve the world, APJ continues to bring its collective voice and strength to the hard work of long-lasting change. To learn more, or to donate, please see www.apjnow.org.
Featured Image courtesy Artists for Peace and Justice