After being in the United States for 2 months, it often becomes easy to forget the events that unfolded on January 12th, 2010. Out of sight, out of mind they say. I was brought back to reality today when one of the SOPUDEP teachers, Chener, informed me that one of the street children I was teaching in the afternoons had died during the earthquake. Lucio was a child of the streets. A child that would walk every afternoon into the SOPUDEP School and like all the other children, try to make up for lost time in an educational environment. Truth be told, I didn’t know Lucio any better than the other 35 street children, but I do remember his smiling face. It didn’t matter that Lucio didn’t recognize the words coming out of my mouth, or the fact that he could barely write his first name. Lucio was in school! He was off of the streets of Haiti for a few hours each day, aspiring to what we take for granted in the United States, a free education. Today the value of SOPUDEP hit home even harder. Driving through the streets of Petion-Ville I was stopped twice by former SOPUDEP students, children that live on Haiti’s streets. The one thing they had to cling on to, going to school at SOPUDEP, knowing they were going to receive a meal that day, going to learn something new: that one joy was taken away by the earthquake.
Today Michele and I were at the new SOPUDEP school site. Construction has begun, and we helped a little, loading and carrying rocks down the wall that will surround the property. It will be at least 6 months before a permanent school can be built, maybe longer depending on funding. Once again, however, the school will stand strong to provide a free education to the most underserved population in Haiti, the orphans and street children. H.E.R.O. wants to provide housing for these children, providing them with a secure home, so that when they go to SOPUDEP next time, they can return to a home where support is continuous and abundant. Please support our cause, whether it is through encouragement, comments, Facebook, Twitter, or donations. Most importantly, carry this conversation to your workplace, community, and educational institutions. No child deserves to live on the street fighting for a daily meal. Together, we can make it stop.