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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Education and a Field Trip to the Beach

For the past 2 weeks I have been spending some time getting to know the children in our afternoon education program. I have been interviewing them one at time to better understand the life situations they come from. The theme from every interview is the same, “My family could not afford to send me to school.” And thus you have a group of children ranging in age from 6 to 18 years old that have had less than 1 year of formal education in their entire lives. It is because of this need that we are providing them with an opportunity to receive a free education.

But, their story does not start or stop there. The children I interviewed live with their families in dilapidated houses made from aluminum sheeting and tarps, with no running water or indoor plumbing. They may or may not eat every day, a problem caused by most of their family members being unemployed. When their families did have money, they would pay for a few months of schooling, but once the money stopped, so did their education.

We have a group of 20 children that have been coming since October of last year. Without fail they show up every day for class, ready to learn. As a reward for their attendance we decided to have a group outing to the beach! For most, it was the first time to go to the ocean. The day started with the students arriving at 7:00 in the morning. We gave them a snack at 7:30, and at 8:00 on the dot we headed out to the beach. After an hour and a half truck ride, we arrived at the public beach that costs less than 50 cents per person to get in. As soon as we arrived, the children hit the water. Fortunately, we had two former lifeguards with us (Kathleen and Sarah), to make sure all were safe. At 12:00 lunch was served, a delicious meal of rice and beans, chicken, and sauce. We had so much food that we were even able to feed 10 of the local kids from the area that had also come to the beach. Everyone was happy. After lunch we continued the party with some more swimming and soccer. The entire day ran smoothly, the children were extremely well behaved, and every child had a smile on their face.

On Monday the same 20 children will receive their school uniforms, many for the first time ever. We are providing a 100% free education for these children, a novel concept in Haiti. I am adamant that Haiti must begin to provide a 100% free public primary education for all children if it is ever to become a 1st world nation. I don’t want to have to ever hear that children could not go to school because their family could not afford it. I hope that you will join us as we continue to provide a free education for the most disenfranchised youth in Haiti.

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