Alumnae Helping Vulnerable Communities in Haiti



Haiti Hands On

Alumnae Helping Vulnerable Communities in Haiti

Best friends, Lamia Makkar '16 and Tasneem (Tas) Zarroug '16, first traveled to Haiti to discover Tas’ family origins and to learn more about the country. In 2012, they started a service club at ACS called Haiti: Hands On to raise money for their trip. While there, they discovered Terre Froide, a small rural village with a population of about 2,000. Terre Froide had limited resources or infrastructure: no hospitals, no trash disposal, no electricity, no running water and the nearest school was 2 hours away.

Their experience inspired them to return to Terre Froide and spend a month working with its community to build latrines, plant gardens, build erosion prevention systems and conduct English language classes. They would ultimately transform the service club into a vibrant nonprofit organization by the same name, partnering with the community to create the first school in Terre Froide and the first community-owned school in the region! They now have more than 225 students enrolled ranging from Pre-K to Grade 6. 

“Our personal trajectories, upbringings in Abu Dhabi, experiences at ACS and our journey with Haiti: Hands On are inseparable.” – Tas Zarroug ‘16

“Had you told me 10 years ago that we would still be working on Haiti Hands On 10 years later and that we would have a fully functioning school in rural Haiti, I probably would have thought you were crazy.” – Lamia Makkar ‘16

 “Lamia and Tas presented a distinctive model for all other student-driven initiatives; their efforts were not to fill in the gaps on a high school resume but driven by a passion to make a difference.”  – Anne Russell, ACS Service Learning Coordinator 2007-2019

Haiti: Hands On is a nonprofit whose mission is to strengthen vulnerable Haitian communities through innovative education and capacity-building opportunities. To learn more about our alums’ amazing project, visit