Chris Low and Abner Sauveur
Our story begins in the spring of 1995, on a bright sunny morning, at a bustling outdoor bus station, on the Nationale #1 road, outside of Citè Solèy; Abner Sauveur was coming into Port Au Prince from the island of Lagonav and Chris Low was on her way out to the island. Abner was coming off the bus that Chris was about to climb onto. Their paths intersected for the first time, a mutual friend introduced them, neither of them knew they would be on a long journey together, spending the next twenty plus years of their lives building a model school that would change Haitian education forever.
Chris and Abner both had experience teaching children, but they first worked together in AAPLAG’s Adult Literacy Program, he as the coordinator, she as the staff developer and Beyond Borders as the funder. As they talked and walked for miles each day to visit literacy centers across the Lagonav mountains, Chris began to help Abner shape a vision and a strategy for a model school. In the summer of 1996 they bought a piece of land and founded The Matènwa Community Learning Center (MCLC) called Lekòl Kominotè Matènwa in Creole.
In 2010, the co-directors changed their roles in order to begin their dream to expand the Matènwa educational model across Lagonav Island and eventually throughout Haiti. Chris established Friends of Matènwa and became its executive director and Abner Sauveur established the Creole Gardens Project to train 10 Lagonav schools. With solid data to back their success in early literacy MCLC established the Institute of Learning in 2015. The Institute is successfully spreading Matènwa methodologies be ing sought out by other communities across the country.