By: Ford Pierre
The Longest Living Known Haitian Author
On this day June 13, 2022, the president of FORF, Odette Roy Fombrun, celebrates her 105th birthday. Indeed, this icon of the Haitian education sector, also known as a writer and historian, occupies her place on the list of the deans in the age of the country. She is a prolific author whose numerous books and textbooks have largely inspired the most productive authors of her time. In short, her life is as long as her career, during which she received numerous awards. Let's discover together some points on the life of this dean emeritus, nicknamed "kok batay" by her collaborators, and who received the title of "Living national treasure".
Odette Roy Fombrun's Life Accomplishments
Odette Roy Fombrun, born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, June 13, 1917, is the seventh of a family of 11 children. She is the daughter of engineer Louis Roy and Henriette Denis. She did her primary and secondary studies successively at Sainte-Rose de Lima and at the École Normale d'Instituteur before graduating from the Nursery Training School in Boston. Nicknamed "kòk batay'' by her collaborators, she has devoted her life to educating young people and finding solutions to the many problems facing her country. She is the author of numerous school books designed to capture young people's interest in history (in French and Creole), geography, social sciences, morals and civics (in French and Creole), and also extracurricular books including children's literature books, detective novels and an essay, Ma vie en trois temps.
As a Haitian Historian, she wrote “The Flag and Arms of the Republic'' and “The Ayiti of the Indians”. She has also produced and published hundreds of newspaper articles reflecting her passion for her country. She was a member of the commission which prepared the preliminary draft Constitution in 1987, a member of the History Society - she wrote in her journal - and a member of the committee of the BPW club of Port-au-Prince, of which she served as president for four years. With her husband, Marcel Fombrun, she spent 27 years in exile, 17 of them in Africa, where she learned and wrote about the lives of children on this continent. She has received a large number of honorary titles, including that of GRAHN, that of "exceptional woman" and that of Honor and Merit to the rank of knight, without forgetting the title which is special to her: "Kòk batay", because given by her fellow workers.
Finally, mother of 5 children, grandmother and great-grandmother of more than 30 grandchildren, she is currently a consultant for Éditions Deschamps and president of a foundation she founded with her children in 2007, the Odette Roy Fombrun Foundation, for education. Also, the honorary titles received and the many honor plaques that adorn the walls of the Foundation that bears her name eloquently testify to her involvement in various social fields and the well-deserved appreciation by her large audience of admirers. In 2009, for all of her achievements throughout her centenary, she was awarded the National Treasure Prize.
Even today, Odette Roy Fombrun prepares booklets for preschoolers while continuing to reflect and offer possible alternatives for a better Haiti.
We have free worksheets perfect for preschoolers and higher to teach kids about The Real Haiti! Download them here.
In 2010, husband and wife team, Endy and Diana, started The Real Haiti travel blog to show the world the other side of Haiti through their experiences. Now parents of 2 young boys, the couple has expanded The Real Haiti to include teaching resources on Haiti and the Haitian culture.
We are a husband and wife team who live in Florida with our two boys. We started traveling to Haiti regularly over a decade ago and The Real Haiti blog was born in 2012. We were selected as winners of the former Minister of Tourism's rebranding contest with the slogan, "Experience It" or "Se La Pou'w La!" We were given a plaque by former President Michel Martelly and attended a special ceremony to launch the official logo and slogan.
The mission of The Real Haiti has always been to educate others about Haiti and all of the amazing things that she has to offer. Because the news generally focuses on the negative, we were motivated to start sharing encouraging pictures, videos, stories and memories about Haiti. While we still share the beauty of Haiti, The Real Haiti has become much more than sharing pretty pictures.
The Real Haiti has become the missing link between you and Haiti. We are industry leaders in connecting you to people, places and things in Haiti! Need a photographer in Haiti for hire? Don't know where to start in planning a trip to Haiti? Not sure how to ethically import goods for your business? We can help!
Who is The Real Haiti for?
We are so passionate about sharing the Haitian culture with you. Let's work together to show the world The Real Haiti!
When I met my husband Endy (then-boyfriend), he would tell me all about Haiti. He would tell me stories about growing up with his siblings, his best friends. He would tell me about the journeys they had to get to school, the funny stories of dressing up in their parents clothes and the soccer games they played on the roof of their house. He would tell me how beautiful "The Real Haiti" was. I mostly just listened, and quietly doubted that a place I always heard was a "third world country," could be beautiful.
What? You're going to Haiti on vacation!?
It took years of convincing to plan a trip to Haiti...7 years actually! Endy planned everything for our 10 day adventure. Although I was excited, my worried mind kept playing questions over in my head like, "what if we can't find water to drink?" and "what if we get TB or yellow fever?" As I type these ridiculous things (that I never actually said out loud), I can't even believe I thought such judgmental things about a place I'd end up falling in love with!
As an innocent Italian-American, red-headed, 28-year-old, I really had no clue what Haiti was really like. I had no clue that visiting Haiti would change my life. As our vacation plans neared, I secretly wanted to back out or hoped for some reason we weren't going to end up going (sad, but true).
The time came and we flew from Florida to Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. My life was forever changed and my eyes and heart were opened like they had never been before. For more of an in depth look about what I saw and experienced, read my blog about things I noticed while in Haiti. Before my first trip, my husband encouraged me to start a blog about Haiti to share what we saw. I wasn't fully on board with the idea, but I did. When I was there and then returned home is when I started blogging about all-things-Haitian and really fell in love with the idea of blogging. I embraced the culture and through my experiences, I had to share all of the amazing things that were so new to me.
Since I started The Real Haiti, Endy and I got married and have two little boys now! Although we don't get to travel to Haiti as much anymore (adulting too much), promoting the Haitian culture, food, people and life in Haiti is still my passion! I couldn't find one place online with resources for teaching kids about Haiti and Haitian Creole so I created my own for my boys and am sharing it with you!
The Real Haiti has a kids section (there's also a tab above) where you can find a variety of resources to teach your kids or students about Haiti
What's new with The Real Haiti
After developing a variety of digital resources about Haiti that focus on cultural education and celebration, we evolved into a membership style resource center called The Real Haiti Academy. You can now enjoy the option of a "pay what you can" model starting at $0. You have the option to pay $0, $15, $25, $50 or $99. No matter how much you pay, you will be getting the same access to the membership with all of the digital resources.
As a member of TRHA, you’ll connect with a community of Haiti lovers who are passionate about keeping the Haitian culture alive. Be proud of your (or your family's) heritage. Encourage multicultural diversity as you're raising your children at home and in your community.
Find out exactly what's included in The Real Haiti Academy.
In this time of uncertainty, one thing I am certain about is that I am not in control of anything. God is in control. I have been given a God-given talent and passion to develop this website and these resources. This is how I am sharing with my digital community who has supported The Real Haiti in one way or another.
"My family and I love exploring, learning about and celebrating our Haitian heritage through The Real Haiti Academy. Our 9-month old son loves the songs, videos & virtual field trip - and the resources keep coming. We're looking forward to using more of the resources as he grows. It's even been fun for my husband to have Creole resources (rather than French). Such an awesome tool! - Kara Jeudy
While all of this started as a fear of Haiti, then a love for Haiti, it's now my business and a huge part of my life. I am so grateful for all of you for following my page for all of these years. Lastly, thank you always for your encouragement! Happy anniversary of The Real Haiti blog and business. Mesi anpil!!!
If you're new to The Real Haiti, sign up below to subscribe to the blog!
Blog post updated 7/26/20 - eight year anniversary of The Real Haiti as a business.
Haitian Flag Day is celebrated every May 18th during the month of Haitian Heritage Month. Haitian Flag Day is huge in the Haitian community and it is observed in Haiti and all over the United States. The meaning behind Haitian Flag Day is to commemorate the Haitian slave revolt, which led to Haiti being the first independent black nation!
Here are some Haitian Flag Day activities and ideas to teach about Haiti's independence
Happy February, friends! I love February because of Valentine's Day and it's my birthday month!
I will never forget this cute little window in this picture. We were hiking up the mountain in Cap Haitien to see the Citadelle Laferrière when I spotted the pink window with a heart on it.
Have you wondered about Valentine's Day in Haiti? Do Haitians celebrate Valentine's Day? Is Valentine's Day a big deal in Haiti? I was curious about Valentine's Day in Haiti so I asked my family and friends for more information and here's what they said.
Valentine's Day in Haiti is...
It was so fun learning about how Valentine's Day in Haiti is celebrated. How do you celebrate Valentine's Day?
January 25th is Multicultural Children's Book Day! Our friends at Educa Vision have some amazing books (for all ages!) and they are offering 10% off anything on their website with code real-haiti. You will find...
Educa Vision's Mission: To make a valuable contribution to the body of multicultural and multilingual educational materials, by publishing materials that connect culturally and linguistically to the students, teachers, administrators, service providers and community leaders. Educa Vision started first by focusing on the needs of Haitian students. Since 2002 Educa Vision is transformed into a multicultural and multilingual publisher. This expansion started first with the development of Caribbean Studies Press that publishes scholarly texts and references about the Caribbean and its diasporas. Later with Educa Brazil, an imprint dedicated to the publication of Portuguese titles. Today, Educa Vision publishes and distributes bilingual books in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, English, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Spanish and Urdu.
Jwaye Nwèl! Merry Christmas!
Christmas is such a magical time for everyone, including for Haitian people! We've spent a few Christmas holidays in Haiti, but since I didn't grow up there, I had to do my own research through my family and the Internet about what Christmas is like (mostly as a child) in Haiti. We are raising our two little boys to appreciate their Haitian heritage and to learn the Haitian Creole language.
Christmas in Haiti brings the same universal magical feeling to everyone, especially kids. Here are some Haitian Christmas songs, traditions and printables to teach about Christmas in Haiti! You may also find yourself reminiscing about Christmas holidays in Haiti!
Christmas Songs in Haitian Creole
Christmas Traditions in Haiti
On Christmas Eve, children place their clean shoes full of straw, under the tree on the porch. They hope that Tonton Nwèl (Santa Claus) will remove the straw and put presents in and around the shoes.
Guests usually lend their visits a little before or around midnight to attend La Messe de Minuit (Midnight Mass for Catholics). Or, some leave to go party or caroling. There is also the Revellion, French for Christmas supper, eaten after midnight mass. Traditionally, the meal served is rice, beans, and fried chicken.
Read a beautiful 1960's memoir written by Jean-Marie Florestal titled Christmas In Jérémie. What a great read...I could really picture the scenes!
Haitian Christmas Printables
Free Download: Haitian Creole Christmas Carols.
History is not my specialty nor my passion, but since this blog is about educating others about The Real Haiti, I did some research about the Haitian holiday Dessalines Day, celebrated on October 17th (the day of his assassination).
Jean-Jacques Dessalines is referred to as one the founding fathers (or Emperor) of Haiti, but many don't speak of him because of the controversial violent massacre of thousands of "white Haitians," also known as native French people. Read more about the 1804 Haiti Massacre here.
A Haitian educator, Louis Mercier, once said, "Whatever the means he employed to accomplish his ends, Dessalines remains the most powerful spirit in our history....One cannot be a real Haitian unless one is a Dessalinian." With gaps in the historical information, Haiti still celebrates Dessalines Day on October 17. Read more about the Haitian Revolution, Haiti's Independence here.
I hope you find these freebies useful to teach your children, friends, family or students about Haiti and the Haitian culture! Use it at home, at a family gathering, for a school presentation, or in your classroom to help teach diversity and culture awareness!
Get a FREE 4-page worksheet/poster bundle of Haitian Cultural highlights with Haitian Creole and English!
Where in the world is Haiti?
Numbers in Haitian Creole
Colors in Haitian Creole
Popular Authentic Haitian Food
You may use these online, but please link back to TheRealHaiti.com please!
If there are other topics you'd like us to cover, just let us know! ENJOY!