TO MY PARTNERS in MINISTRY
to the PEOPLE of HAITI
Education and the ability to attend school is such an everyday part of the heartbeat of Haiti. There is no guarantee that your child will be able to go to school. Unless you are one of the fortunate few who is now enrolled in a new program that was started by Haitian President Martelly where your child is able to attend school for free, you must have the ability to pay tuition, buy school books and purchase a uniform in order for your child to make a shadow in the doorway of a local school.
Schools classrooms range from clean and painted rooms to shabby and dark portions of rooms to no building whatsoever, perhaps just a crude bench under the shade of a mango tree.
This month, I visited a small school in one of the poorest districts of Les Cayes. On Sunday, the structure (about the size of an American living room) serves as a church. Monday through Friday it houses three clusters of hand hewn school benches, each with a makeshift blackboard propped against the wall. On the day that I visited there was a torrential rain. It was easy to see why the benches were crowded into their unique locations, as it was a way of avoiding the drips coming from the leaky roof.
On duty this particular day was one teacher. We were told that there was no longer a salary available for the other teacher. About 40 students made up one class. These were the youngest students. The older students made up two more classes – one with 6 students and the other with 4 students. The older students were given a blackboard assignment, while the teacher worked in the far corner of the room with the younger students.
The room, although it had two single naked light bulbs strung on bare wires suspended from the ceiling, was not illuminated. Either there was no city power or there was no money to pay the electric bill. If not for the few open-cement block windows, the room would have been even darker than it was on this particularly gloomy rainy day.
It was a wonderful surprise to see that this meager school did have a feeding program. Each child was instructed to go outside and wash their hands in a tub of water before they could eat their food. Following a prayer, each child was served a generous helping of beans and rice. Some of the children had forgotten to bring their bowls and/or their spoons. These children could be seen using a borrowed bowl or eating with their fingers. When the meal was finished the children collected the bowls and some children took advantage of the pouring rain to rinse their hands at the open doorway.
Few school books were in sight. Fewer pencils and fewer tablets of paper were present. In the corner, a small table held the tiny school bell, a strap used for discipline and the schedule for classes.
Just outside the doors of the school were a myriad of children. Some of them peered through the doorway as they were passing by. Some stood near their homes listening to the sounds coming from the school. These children obviously did not have money to pay tuition fees and thus, were left to yearn for an education.
This visit reminded me that when you think you have seen the poorest school of all you only need to visit another school and you will find yet another one that is even poorer. It also reminded me how much education is valued. The building structure (or lack of one) does not deter a parent from trying to give an education to their child. The only thing that deters them is the lack of funds to send their child to some sort of educational facility. Oh that each child could go to school! Oh that each child could have a school with enough teachers, enough supplies and receive a quality education! These things are only dreams to so many children in Haiti!
If you are reading this and in the past have become one of the donors to Caribbean Children’s Foundation for the education of a child … THANK YOU! If you are searching for a way to help, know that your money will be well spent in helping give a Haitian child get a chance at life through education! Education in Haiti is not a given …. it is a PRIVILEGE!
Missionary to Haiti & the Dominican Republic Until next time. God willing …………