On August 29th I left Canada for Miami to catch a flight to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to meet my son and a wonderful group of dedicated volunteers, each with distinct areas of expertise. Our plan was to work with teachers and school children in Haiti. In Miami I met up with William Stelzer, a freelance artist/filmmaker specializing in digital media. Bill brings extensive experience, having worked in Haiti about 15 times since 2008. Bill joined the group to teach as well as to film.
The Unleash Kids program recognizes unsung heroes of the One Laptop per Child movement. These people are interviewed live worldwide about their work seeking to liberate kids through electronic and outdoor exploration. Junior is the Haitian coordinator for the Unleash Kids project.
Before leaving the airport we connected with Christine Low who works on the Mother Tongue Books project. (http://matenwaclc.org/mother-tongue-books/mother-tongue-books-2/) With her was Joelle Julien, a lively young woman who hopes to be teaching in La Gonave throughout 2014.
All of us rushed off to dinner together where we were immediately immersed in discussing what languages are best used for teaching . Her friend Michel DeGraff, a Haitian professor of linguistics based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, says “Learning to first read and write in a foreign language is somewhat like a toddler who is forced to start walking with a blindfold, and the blindfold is never taken off”. We read through about a dozen of Christine’s Creole books (authored & illustrated by kids!) and later went to their intriguing guest house to see more. I bought 4-5 of them as a gift for a Haitian teacher friend of mine.
During dinner we were joined by a Haitian friend, Jeanide Joseph, who taught at another school that I have visited in the past. Jeanide is a lovely young woman, adored by students, who excels at things creative and artistic. She agreed to join us on our journey later in the week to give us a hand.
Sora Edwards-Thro arrived on Saturday after a long, long journey by boat through the night, followed by many tap-tap bus rides. Her work near the Dominican border adds depth to the group dynamics. Junior Monrose has recently travelled to her site to help inspire her teachers. Her site is uniquely a desert climate. She works in a community with children who are particularly disadvantaged, being poor even by Haitian standards.
A remarkable group all of whom work well together!
Thus ends the first day of this 6-day project, beginning our work to Unleash Kids.
Submitted by Marie Holt