PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Back in the 80s, little Claude and his brother huddled around a candle or kerosene lantern at their home in the mountainous region of Qui Croit to learn the three Rs. He’s now Dr. Claude Louis, of Riverside Health, and his 2021 children’s book “I’m all grown up now, Papa” captures the burning desire to learn.
Frozen in time by natural and man-made disasters, the children of Qui Croit (pronounced Key-Kwa) still live without power.
“The students study by kerosene lantern which is the same way my husband studied,” said Dr. Louis’s wife Kristen who supports her husband’s non-profit, Words in Action Haiti.
Last year, 10 On Your Side told you about Dr. Louis of Riverside Health. He returns to Haiti several times a year to deliver aid to families in despair. The Louis family just launched a new program to collect and deliver solar-powered lanterns to help Haitian children who also have that burning desire to learn.
“The lanterns are really quite remarkable; people are so ingenious in the things that they come up with. This is a lantern that comes flat and it has a port where you blow it up and you inflate it. It ships like this; it’s a flat package which is great for getting into foreign countries and it blows up to size. The bigger one also has a charger port for a [cell ] phone,” said Mrs. Louis.
In Haiti, Dr. Louis delivers.
“Ultimately it will come down to my husband delivering and bringing them himself and ushering them through customs and bringing them up to the mountains,” said Mrs. Louis.
10 On Your Side asked Louis about the inherent dangers associated with a country that is, in part, controlled by gangs.
“We evaluate that continuously as the safest way to get things done. For us, we know the conditions in Haiti are bleak right now. We can’t change much about that. But, we can help improve the quality of life and empower future generations with education. So we will do the good we can,” said Mrs. Louis.
If you’d like to donate to the Bright Futures Lantern Campaign, click here. Your donation can be applied to lanterns, education or healthcare. The organization says 100% of funds go directly to the cause.
Last year, Dr. Louis won the Medical Society of Virginia’s Salute to Service Award for international medical outreach. He will be recognized at an upcoming gala in Hot Springs, Virginia. The society will also host a book signing event for Dr. Louis’s first two children’s books, “I’m All Grown Now Papa and When Kais Met Toussaint.