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Communiqué #119

Communiqué #119


to the PEOPLE of HAITI

January 19, 2016


Sometimes when I am an eye-witness to certain things here in Haiti, I find myself wondering if people who have never been to a third world country could even imagine that situations like this could really still exist in today’s world.

On my recent visit to a school on the tiny island of Île-à-Vache, those types of thoughts surfaced.

I was volunteering in a third grade classroom and decided to ask each of the children to write down their name and their age on a sheet of paper. One boy did not know his full name. He needed to look at the cover of his notebook to see what his name was and how to spell it. The age range of the children was also interesting. The ages ranged from 8 to 17.   Most certainly the 17-year-old was in third grade because he had never had the opportunity to go to school when he was younger. There were several in the 12 to 15 age range where maybe that also was the case. For those from 9 to 11 perhaps this too was true OR they had failed to pass third grade and were repeating it for the second or third or fourth time in an attempt to pass to the next grade level after finally achieving successful academic results. I must admit that I really admire the oldest students for their desire to receive an education, even though it places them in a class with far younger children who may be unkind to them. I try to imagine if I were in those shoes if I would make the same choice.

Names and ages of 3rd graders

Names and ages of 3rd graders

Some 1st graders see electricity & a lighted ceiling fan for the first time EVER!

Some 1st graders see electricity & a lighted ceiling fan for the first time EVER!

Now imagine what it was like for a first grade class whose lesson for the day was taught in the rooms of our guesthouse. The first room that was visited was one of the bathrooms. For most of the children, they had NEVER seen a sink, a toilet or a shower. The teacher patiently explained what each of those modern conveniences was and how to use them. Imagine, in today’s world, living in a home that had none of those items. The next room they visited was a bedroom. The beds were a marvel to many, who most likely sleep on grass mats in their home or the bare and sometimes earthen floor.   The next stop was to the dining room where two large tables had lots of chairs surrounding them.   Many of their families count it a luxury to own even one handcrafted chair.   Also in the dining room was a ceiling fan with a light. Little eyes gazed in wonder as the switch was flipped and the light came on.   An even greater marvel was the rotating of the fan when the chain was pulled. As the children exited the room, many strained to get a little longer look at the marvelous rotating fan!          IMAGINE!

Nora Léon                   

Missionary to Haiti & the Dominican Republic       Until next time, God willing …………

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