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.
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.
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.
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.