Port-au-Prince, Haiti – August 30, 2013
Friday the 30th of August was a very structured day that succeeded beautifully in spite of inevitable problems and delays. Our small group of volunteers gathered early in the morning, aiming to visit a friend’s school in Croix-des-Bouquets. Ruben Magloire directs Ecole Betsaleel, which teaches approximately 150 children in a difficult and sometimes dangerous location.
Happy to reunite!The organization which assisted him in the past was frightened away from the area after thugs broke in, where barbed wire protective fencing had been missing. This has left the school in limbo as to its future. The school is made out of tarps and wood and is not structurally sound.
The classrooms at Betsaleel
The American university which encouraged progress in reading through donations of Haitian Creole books also backed away from assistance for these children. The agreement for ending their relationship with the school involved donating a sum of money for Magloire to purchase a small property. It is this property we hoped to visit. Unfortunately, property in Haiti must be immediately secured to prevent squatters from taking it over; this is done by building high cement block walls. This is a great expense, especially when you have next to no income from school fees. And so some volunteers helped develop a plan whereby the children’s parents did the actual labor, a friend from Magloire’s university days assisted with pricing materials, and the walls began to grow. It was an extremely worrisome time for him until the walls were mostly finished.
Ruben Magloire and “Baba” work together to run the schoolDuring our short one hour visit we were able to walk the property (with mango trees) and hear about his building design dreams. There’s not a cent available at this time for buildings, but there is the security of knowing that the school will have a future at a paid-for location. Four more rows of blocks will soon be added to the walls. We are very pleased to see parent involvement.
The school office
We were able to bring a few gifts to the school. There is no electricity at this site and no computer club. Our communication with Ruben Magloire will continue from afar, but this was an emotional time together.
After a short stop for a cool drink, we proceeded to our second destination, the orphanage of Pasteur Silar. This is one of the locations where Child in Hand ( http://www.childinhand.org) sponsors the teachers of computer clubs.
Pasteur Silar greets us I was given a tour of the dormitory rooms (small with many bunk beds). The children were watching their hour of television for the day at the time of our arrival. Their day is structured with lots of time for prayer. Pasteur depends on donations of food for feeding the children each week. Sometimes they don’t receive food.
Children’s dorm room
One of the purposes of our visit to the school was to check on the computer club that was started here and is taught twice weekly by Junior Monrose. My son found various problems with the computer system, but he was able to identify a top student who was making wonderful advances!
Adam at workThe laptops now offer a choice at three grade levels of (electronic) books that students can read in Creole. These books are brightly illustrated.
Partly due to efforts of Félix Morisseau-Leroy, since 1961 Haitian Creole has been recognized as an official language along with French, which had been the sole literary language of the country since its independence in 1804. Its orthography was standardized in 1979. The official status was maintained under the country’s 1987 constitution. The use of Haitian Creole in literature has been modest but is increasing. Morisseau was one of the first and most influential authors to write in Haitian Creole. Since the 1980s, many educators, writers and activists have written literature in Haitian Creole.
E-book choices listed on computer screen Pasteur Silar was thrilled with the 10 computer mice that we brought with us for use by the children’s club. We brought lots of basics here: paper, chalk, pencils, scissors, construction paper, etc. We explained an awards system for projects: a weekly award, such as a book, for the best project of the week. That book will be stamped to recognize the child’s good work. Then at the end of 7-14 days it will be placed in a library to be used by other children. We brought enough materials for this system to work until the end of 2013.
We rushed to make our way to the airport to collect an arriving volunteer. We made it on time ! My bags were lighter after sharing gifts with the children. But the new volunteer, George, paid for a VERY HEAVY (bigger than a car battery) 12V deep-cycle battery for our next destination. We traveled by public transport, which meant lots of waiting for our tap-tap bus to fill with passengers, lots of heat, some rain, bargaining over the cost of the transport and some nervousness about guarding our possessions. We were rather squashed and poor George was feeling like a pretzel. Eventually we departed and made it to our destination, Grand-Goâve, where we carried our bags and the battery to the Mission of Hope school. All this before dinner time! Contact was made with Pasteur Lex and his wife Renée, directors of Mission of Hope International, and we reached the beach area where we ate dinner and settled in for a most comfortable stay in our dorms.