In addition to providing children in Haiti with backpacks and school supplies, we would also like to to implement a Community Outreach program for children in Port au Prince. A “test run” was done in September of 2013. We brought the The Rainbow Fish to children in two orphanages in PaP that we worked with in May. Thanks to a generous donation from one of the friends of Be The Hope: Haiti, we were inspired to do a story time/arts & crafts project with the children.
The book, which is in both English and French, was read by an awesome volunteer (Thanks again Brian!). The children were completely engaged with the story. After the story, each child was given the opportunity to make their own Rainbow Fish using a fish template on card stock, tissue paper and special sparkly paper “scales”, glitter glue and markers. The children had a wonderful time and were very creative! We hope to bring more of these projects to children, especially from Cite Soleil, in the coming months.
If you would like to help support these programs, you may do so in the following ways:
I went to a wonderful orphanage with my friend Sarah Griffith on Saturday. It was the most impressive orphanage I have experienced in Haiti. The children ran up to greet us, each saying bonjou and kissing us on the cheeks. They were clean, fully clothed, healthy, happy, well mannered and just a joy to be around. Sarah had brought a bunch of pillowcase dresses for the girls and they had a wonderful time taking turns to select their new outfits. There were enough for each girl to make 3 choices.
Then, all of the children picked out a canvas pencil case that I had brought and they used fabric markers to personalize them. The children attend school at the orphanage. The director, Marie Yveline Adam, actually brings proper teachers in to teach the children! It was amazing.
Lastly, Sarah brought a final surprise; a guitar, electronic keyboard and two drums! A jam session ensued with all of us, children and adults, complete with crazy singing, dancing and drumming. It was one of the highlights of my 3 weeks.
Ecole Fessart is located in the mountains high above Petionville. It is an extremely poor area and it’s up a very steep mountain, which makes it difficult to reach. There are approximately 120 children attending the school. They currently have no permanent building. Classes are held in a tent that does not protect the interior from the elements. There are bare dirt floors and the school benches rot very easily from the rain and constant moisture. However, the children attend school even under these conditions. The head of the school is a lovely 29 year old man working in very difficult circumstances, but he is committed to the school and the children. There are a total of 6 teachers that are very rarely paid as there are no funds to do so. Through my friend Sarah’s amazing work, the school is provided with food once a month via a sponsor that she secured. This ensures that the children have at least one meal per day during the school week.
Our immediate goal is to bring backpacks and school supplies for all of the 120 children to be delivered at the start of the new school year in September. Additionally, since the school has nothing, we would also like to bring any other classroom supplies (i.e. chalk, chalkboard erasers, art and craft supplies, etc.) that we know will go to good use.
Our goal is to provide the following wish list items to each child:
1 – backpack
1 – hand pencil sharpener
1 – 24 pack of crayons
2 – 100 count Composition Notebooks
1 – pencil case
1 – eraser or pencil top erasers
5 – ballpoint pens (blue or black)
6 – number 2 pencils
1 – 12″ ruler
We are confident that we can achieve this goal, but we will need assistance. Here are some ways that you can help us reach our goal:
On my last day in Haiti I delivered backpacks and school supplies to children at Mix Emmanuel Primary School in Port au Prince. The school was very impressive and the director was a lovely man. Unfortunately, the classrooms had less than half of the amount of children that they could hold. Each of the 6 classrooms can hold 40 children, but due to the cost of schooling, families can not afford to send their children. The school asks each family to contribute 500 gourdes (approximately $12.50 per month.) and for many, that is too much. The children were very appreciative and had smiles from ear to ear when given a new backpack and supplies.
I was talking to someone recently at the Farmers Market about Be The Hope and the dire circumstances for many children in Haiti. We had a nice conversation and I felt like he was really listening to what I had to say. Toward the end, he made a comment about the fact that there are children in the United States that need help too. I don’t think he was trying to be mean; just making a point. And it was a valid point. However, I found that I had the perfect response. I told him that I have been a licensed foster parent for 3 years, so I am well aware of the need.
As a foster parent I am on the frontlines every day. I have heard horror stories in training about abuses that children have suffered that are unimaginable and inconceivable. I attend all of the court hearings, Foster Care Review Board meetings, and in some cases, the trials of the biological parents when the state is seeking to terminate parental rights. I have had a child in my home that suffered the worst of all abuses: sexual abuse. Nothing can prepare you for a 5 year old telling you what Mom’s boyfriend did to her. I have spent weeks in the hospital with two of my kiddos, been to cardiologists, ENT’s, counseling appointments, and spent an afternoon at Childhelp. I know the need.
I have opened my home to 6 beautiful little girls since I became licensed in 2010. Some have stayed for as little as 2 days (until a relative was identified that could take her in) to 16+ months and counting. While this has been a rewarding, frustrating, overwhelming, joyful, agonizing, amazing, heart wrenching and challenging experience, I still feel drawn to do more. That is why I decided to start Be The Hope.
I consider myself a champion of children. If I can give hope to just one child, whether that child is in the United States or Haiti, then it’s a good day.