UNIFA, the University of the Aristide Foundation in Haiti


An article by Haiti Action Committee member Marilyn Langlois for Transcend Media Service

“Right now, in the moment that Haiti is living, the university is essential. Haiti vitally needs a safe space where young people can come together, think country, and contract a future under very difficult circumstances. A place where they can learn from and interact with national and international professionals. An institution that will address national issues and seek viable solutions to national problems. Dreams of working, prospering, and changing Haiti….”
— Mildred Aristide, Former First Lady of Haiti.

Based in Tabarre, Haiti, the University of the Aristide Foundation (UNIFA) is a high quality, multidiscipline, accredited university taught by Haitian and international professors prominent in their fields. UNIFA is a member of the Institute of International Education.

As of academic year 2016-2017, UNIFA has seven disciplines: Schools of Medicine, Law, Nursing, Physical Therapy, Dentistry, Engineering, and Continuing Education.

UNIFA’s Physical Therapy degree program is the first of its kind in Haiti. This school answers the acute need for physical therapists in Haiti, a need that became particularly clear after the 2010 earthquake when many people suffered devastating injuries that require intensive rehabilitative treatment.

UNIFA is building its own teaching hospital/medical center to enable its numerous health-related students to gain necessary practical experience as well as to provide meaningful health care to the surrounding communities who are unable to access medical care. Planning and fundraising for construction are now underway. The teaching hospital will provide dozens of much needed slots for clinical training for UNIFA’s students.

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Question related to this article:

Are the people of Haiti making progress toward a culture of peace?

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What makes UNIFA unique and important to the future of Haiti, setting it apart from other universities in Haiti, is its determination to teach with an emphasis on the value of human rights and dignity, in order to build a new and just Haiti.

UNIFA’s core issues and focuses include quality education, global health, human rights and citizen engagement, gender and income equality, women and girls empowerment, youth development, and disaster response and recovery.

UNIFA’s Mission and Guiding Principles

– Emphasize human rights and dignity through use of human rights-based education and practices to build a new and just Haiti.

– Break down long tradition in Haiti of exclusion of the poor majority from access to higher education.

– Increase number of doctors practicing in rural areas. Recruit students from all ten departments of Haiti.

– Commit to equal gender representation.

– Open medical and legal professions to all. Prepare doctors and lawyers to serve the poorest of the poor.

– Provide a university for critical thinking about Haiti.

– Provide space for students to return as teachers, giving back to same system that nurtured and trained them.

– Please consider donating to UNIFA

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The Haiti Action Committee is a Bay-Area based network of activists who have supported the Haitian struggle for democracy since 1991.Our members travel frequently to Haiti and are in close touch with Haitian grassroots activists, legal and human rights workers, and victims of repression. Through demonstrations and civil disobedience, Congressional lobbying and educational events, publications and community organizing, we are working to build a strong Haiti solidarity movement.