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Faith, Hope, and Love in Boucan-Carré, Haiti
“That's when I feel most alive, when I'm helping people.” Paul Farmer
Ever since the beginning of the partnership between STS and St. Timothee’s School in Haiti, I had a strong desire to be part of it. It may have been a calling, or just me wanting to serve these beautiful people and see the land and school that I imagined.
Traveling up a long and winding, dirt road filled with people, we arrived to St. Timothee’s School. The staff greeted us with open arms, while the children’s faces expressed more curiosity and perhaps apprehension. Seeing it for the first time, gave me pause. The building is rudimentary and is not surrounded by much, but I had a feeling what was inside was going to change me forever.
The first day, our goal for the group of five was to observe and gain trust. Within no time, the children began to come up to us asking us questions in their beautiful Haitian Creole. The language barrier was there, but human interaction with gestures and facial expressions helped us begin to form a connection. Away from phones, cell service and any devices, we began to interact. Getting down on the level of the smaller children, we quickly found smiles, laughter and a people that are happy in a way that our society here has trouble finding.
Lisa Lowrance, Spanish Teacher, who has been on this trip before, squealed with delight when she saw the small, concrete building that serves as the school’s kitchen, which was built since her last trip. For some of us, we had no reference, but Lisa began to explain to us that on the last trip, the school had to cook their meals outside on an open coal fire. This new kitchen showed progress, which creates hope, and sometimes hope is all people have. After the last trip to St. Timothee’s in Haiti, the three teachers that went on the trip returned asking that we help provide at least two meals a week. It was wonderful to see that the meals were being provided due to our efforts. The meal of rice and beans that we served is sometimes the only meal these children get that day.
Still, much progress is to be made. The smaller children are in an outdoor classroom where wooden beams hold tarps that cover their wooden benches and makeshift desks. If there is inclement weather, they either pack inside with the other children, or just do not come to school that day. During the meals we served, there was a shortage of reusable plastic bowls and utensils. We had to reuse the bowls without water to wash them, and some children simply ate with their fingers and others just borrowed a spoon or fork from a friend. After witnessing this shortage, we decided to donate money we had for discretionary items for them to buy more bowls and utensils at the local market.
In addition to providing money for the utensils, we also took several suitcases full of supplies given by STS parents to donate to St. Timothee’s. On the second day, we presented these items to the head of the school and staff. The older students received red St. Timothy’s bags filled with pencils, composition notebooks, and pencil sharpeners. We also left them school supplies, soccer balls, air pumps for the balls and other donated items. The students and staff were very grateful, and the students clamored around to see the items. Playing games, assisting with a school activity, and in general watching the dynamics of our group interact with their staff and children gave me a sense of optimism and excitement. I feel this is the beginning of a long and wonderful bond and partnership that STS will have with this school.
When I left, it was with a sense of unfinished work. Knowing it might be some time before we see them again, I did feel heavy hearted and a bit helpless. Wishing I could stay to continue to serve as needed, I resolved to hopefully return. However, watching them kick a soccer ball instead of an old, plastic bottle means that every small chance we get to help, will be one that helps these children grow and learn. Being a part of St. Timothy’s School in Raleigh has meant working and having my children at a place where nurture and kindness abounds. The children of St. Timothee’s in Haiti exhibited such happiness, and care for one another, it confirmed for me that there aren’t that many differences between our students and their students. School is a safe place for learning and play. STS can help ensure this continues for not only their generation, but for many generations to follow, and I am beyond grateful to have been a part of such an experience.
For more on this trip, read Fourth Grade Teacher Kathryn Donohue's online travel journal.
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