When you first meet Pierre and Cynthia Balthazar, the founders of Return 2 Haiti, it seems like they are worlds apart. Before long you will learn that they both come from fairly large families and were raised in a rural agrarian environment. They are both teachers, the both have several children from first marriages. Most important, you will come to understand their passion for sustainability and sustainable communities.
Here are the facts about Pierre and Cynthia:
Pierre, who is originally from Belle-Anse, Haiti, co-founded with David Smith, the school Lekol Pa Nou (Creole for “Our School”) and the nonprofit Education for Prosperity. Until recently he was a counselor at Eastern High School in Lansing, Michigan and also teaches mathematics at Lansing Community College. Currently, Pierre is a Counselor at Michigan State University. He has a Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling, with an endorsement in Guidance Counseling, from Michigan State University. Pierre is the father of four children.
Cynthia grew up in Cadillac, Michigan. She has visited Haiti at least twice a year since 2008, often travelling with her own children and students. She is a co-founder of BUCOSEH, a non-profit dedicated to supporting an orphanage/school near Port-au-Prince that was organized by local Haitians and which serves children who survived the January 2010 earthquake. Cynthia taught mathematics at several high schools and chemistry at Alpena Community College. She has a Masters in Chemistry from Central Michigan University and also taught chemistry at Mid-Michigan Community College She teaches mathematics part- time for Lansing Schools and is currently a PHD student in the Department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State University. Cynthia is the mother of five children.
Pierre and Cynthia met by chance at a sustainability conference in Michigan in 2007. Soon they were marrying their passion for sustainability, Haiti, and each other into a life together with a fulfilling mission.