Back to School

ter-sel-school-kids

School and Village kids outside Ter Sel School in La Gonave. Photo taken April 2014. The school now has a roof.

For most of us the arrival of September means BACK TO SCHOOL and everything that goes along with that. Some of us may fight it, but we are usually glad to get back to a routine. Those of us who love pretty pens and paper and fancy binders eagerly look at the sales flyers so we can stock up on school supplies. Most kids don’t think about the value of an education and don’t consider themselves grateful for the opportunity to attend school. We really just take it for granted and accept it as a part of a kid’s life.

robin-school

Who doesn’t love a school photo? One of Robin’s grade school photos.

 

September in Haiti also means BACK TO SCHOOL. There are no sales flyers here but families still go to the market or local small stores to purchase their books and paper for school. It’s estimated that 85 – 90% of the schools in Haiti are private and so families have to pay tuition for every year of school. They also need to purchase school uniforms and new shoes. A few months down the road, exams will need to be paid for.

school-fees

An example of tuition at a local school. The fees are in Haitian dollars. Right now $1 US = $13 Haitian.

If tuition isn’t paid and a uniform has not been purchased along with new shoes, kids are not permitted to step foot in school.

September in Haiti means STRESS and scraping together the money necessary any way possible. I honestly don’t know how the families in our community do it. There are only a few kids who are sponsored by organizations like Compassion. Some of the private schools with connections outside Haiti work really hard to give scholarships or sponsorships to kids in those schools. But the majority of families in Haiti have to come up with the funds themselves.

Education is valued here. School is not taken for granted. Kids and families are grateful for the opportunity to attend school. Nobody takes it for granted.

School started in Haiti Monday, September 5th. But it’s kind of a rolling start here. Some schools were open Monday but not all teachers were in place. Some schools didn’t open September 5th but will start a week or so later. Some schools are open and teachers are in place and students are in classes but not all students. Some students still don’t have books or uniforms or tuition.

school-nationale

Wednesday morning there should have been a steady stream of students leaving a local school. But there were only a handful.

And so families continue to work and scrape and ask for money.

It is so difficult to be here and to have people asking us for help with school. It’s uncomfortable. We know the need is very real. We know we cannot give money to everybody who asks. We pray for guidance on how to help and who to help. We have more questions than answers.

As always, what I write on the blog is meant more as my observations on life in Haiti, which won’t necessarily be everybody’s experience. This is a huge topic and not one that I can understand with just my limited experience. Thanks for reading and for joining us in praying how best to come alongside our friends, neighbours and staff.

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One thought on “Back to School

  1. Dear Robin & Beth, Thanks again for your letter.Education in Haiti is much different from what we see around here. Parents and students take so much for granted here and things come easily for most people. What a contrast !!! School started last week in most places, I think. I am very thankful that I don’t teach any more. Everything has changed so much and not for the better in a lot of cases. We have just had a week of extremely hot, humid weather. Tomorrow cooler air is supposed to move in and we will be glad. Probably what we call extreme would be pretty normal for Haiti. Is the weather humid there ? The men got the trees cut on Catons in front of the Stevenson Center and today they finished bringing them across to the landing. Some are up in the wood lot but more have to be hauled when they get a chance — maybe next week. They have worked hard for a couple of days. Bruce hasn’t been able to work because he had the retina in his eye tear. This is the third time for the same eye ( over a few years). He hated to have to sit by and have the men doing the work. Plans are being made for a retirement party for Wayne & Pat. I guess that it will be Oct. 30th. Their last Sunday is the first Sun. of Nov. Perhaps you heard that Steve & Heather Bradley are coming at the end of the church year to be our pastor. Not sure what arrangements will be made for the time in between Nov. & then. There isn’t much more news for now. We are keeping well and staying busy. Thanks again for your letter. We will pray that you will know who and how to help as far as the education situation. It must be hard when you see so many needs. Love & Prayers, David & Genevieve

    On Fri, Sep 9, 2016 at 12:15 PM, Beyond the Fence wrote:

    > Beth and Robin posted: ” For most of us the arrival of September means > BACK TO SCHOOL and everything that goes along with that. Some of us may > fight it, but we are usually glad to get back to a routine. Those of us who > love pretty pens and paper and fancy binders eagerly look a” >

    Like

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