What a great trip to Haiti! I’ve had a couple weeks now to reflect on it and begin to sort through our pictures and all the information we gathered and I’m really pleased with what was accomplished.
It was such a joy to share this time with my mom and my youngest son Caleb. Both of them were a huge help.
I would not have been able to get all the children interviewed without my mom’s help, plus she took some great pictures around the school.
She also became the primary person working with Ariol on the jewelry project which allowed me time to work on other tasks. I’m really excited about everything they accomplished and the commitment and quality I saw from the kids. You’ll be hearing more details in another post.
Caleb was so helpful! On his own, he took responsibility for getting pictures of the sponsored children after their interviews and making sure they did their progress reports. Not to mention all the money he earned before the trip to purchase toys and supplies for the school!
It was wonderful to see all the school children, to meet with every sponsored child and to see how much they’ve grown since I last saw them almost 3 years ago. It is so satisfying to know that you and I have had a hand in these children’s education, their knowledge of God, and even their improved health through the meals we have been able to help provide!
There were also a few difficult things about meeting with the kids. Hearing about the headaches and stomach aches many of them have before the school meal is served. Trying to straighten out names… in several cases we learned that the last name we have for a child is incorrect. This confusion is often because the child is living with step- or half-siblings, cousins, or even friends: a reality of poverty. A few of our sponsored children have recently stopped coming to school. When the school staff went to check on them, they learned that the family had moved away without telling anyone where they were going- probably to try to make a better living somewhere new.
Several of the older kids expressed concern for their future. While the younger children share dreams of becoming a pilot or doctor, the older children mostly tell us more practical goals for their future: “I want to learn to sew.” “I want a job loading containers.” “I want to finish high school.” Many eighth graders asked if there would be ninth grade next year. We learned of one child who is not able to learn or progress beyond where he is now academically and that there are no resources for him in the village. All of these instances remind us of the harsh realities of poverty and why we do what we do.
I was able to finally meet the “new” school principal who took over shortly after my last trip to Haiti.
Samuel, who is also a pastor at a nearby village church, is a quiet, warm gentleman who desires to impact the children’s futures through teaching them the gospel and improving their educational opportunities. His care was evident throughout the week as I observed how much better organized the school is than it’s been in the past, the expansion of the school to eighth grade, and in the educational growth I saw in the children. He has some great ideas for future improvements to the school, which I will share with you in a future post.
One of my favorite things from this trip was getting to give bonuses to the school staff! These men and women work so hard to educate and take care of these kid – and they do it all in hot, stuffy, concrete-block rooms with no air conditioning!
The teachers are getting paid between $50 and $80 per month, depending on what grade level they teach. The support staff, including janitor, nurse, administrators and cooks receive anywhere from $7 per month to about $60. The bonuses I was able to give were small – from $10 to $20- but so appreciated.
Thank you so much to everyone who donated money toward this trip allowing me to bless these hardworking men and women in this way. They asked me to express to you their appreciation for the bonuses as well as your continued support of the school through sponsorships.
Another exciting thing that happened on this trip was an answered prayer! In preparation for our visit, Gilbert hired a young man named Wesley to be one of our translators. Wesley lives in Port-au-Prince and speaks English very well. He was a great interpreter and translator of written information. As you may remember, Claudel, who used to be my Haitian contact for The Bridge, has moved to the States. Since he left, I have not had a regular contact besides Pastor Gilbert, who is busy with the many ministries he is involved with. Well, we asked Wesley if he would be willing to be my “communication liaison” and he said yes!
He has agreed to visit Carrefour Poy about twice a month to check the attendance of the sponsored children and get other updates about the kids and the school. I’m very excited to have this difficulty solved!
One thing I really I missed was the opportunity to interact with the school kids in a more relaxed way. This trip was packed with many things needing to be accomplished. Next time, I’ll have to plan a little extra time into the trip for that. But overall, this trip was a wonderful blessing in so many ways.