I remember so many first days of school, (come on they are not that far back for me to remember!) I remember the week before sharpening all my pencils, writing my name on all my binders, and picking out the outfit I would wear on my first day back. That day after Labour Day generally had a light crispness to it with the promise of fall about to begin and an excitement. My mom even use to sing the Christmas carol “It’s the most wonderful time of year”! But the thing I remember most is being excited to see all my friends again after a long but fun summer and to start playing school sports. Being educated was a given, something I really did take for granted. You often do not see the value in it until you meet someone who does have the same privileges.
Having a primary education is listed in the UN’s Rights of a Child, and yet every year approximately 67 million children worldwide, many of them girls, do not receive this opportunity. Three years ago, when Live Different’s Cole Brown (our Manager of Operation in the DR and Haiti) visited the mountain community of Calvaire in Cap Haitien, he found children who were a part of this astronomical number of uneducated children. He knew that Live Different needed to help and set out with the plans to help Calvaire. The first thing Live Different did was to buy the land for the school. The crazy thing was that to the naked eye it looked like we had just bought the side of a mountain, but as construction began, our work crews dug right in (literally!) and built a beautiful retaining wall and it all came into better focus.
Construction began May 2010 and our first group of Hero Holidayers from Ft. McKay Native Reserve were there to do it! Since that first trip we have had 3 other teams come and complete 2 classrooms, washrooms, and an office (currently being used as another classroom). Construction has not been easy and is even primitive at times. For example, instead of using heavy machinery, our crews have dug and lit fires under boulders to make them easier to chip away. Nothing gets wasted though, because these rocks have been used to build the retaining walls around the school. Water for this project had to be brought by hand, mostly from a natural spring at the base of the mountain. On our trips, for fun, we get our volunteers who are up for it physically to do a “water run”. It’s hard! I had to do it with only half a bucket and still came to the school huffing and puffing as little children passed me with full buckets on their way to their homes (these kids do this up to 12 times a day!). Despite all these challenges and daunting tasks Live Different kept focused on the fact that our school would help in educating this community and aid in ending their cycle of poverty. Finally, in October of 2011, we began our first year of school!!!
This October 9, 2012 was the first day of our second year running classes. Live Different partners with a Haitian charity called A.S.E.E.D.H. and this group oversees the day to day running of the school. They and our teachers believe in education and its strength in ending the cycle of poverty. It is so evident when you see them in action at the school how much they love and care for each of the students. Currently, we have 177 students enrolled for this 2012/2013 school year. There are grades JR Kindergarten to 5 being taught by 6 teachers, 1 Principal, 1 Administrator, and 2 Educational Assistants. Each child wears an adorable yellow and green uniforms. The subjects taught to the students are: Creole & French, math, social studies, science.
This school is truly making a difference in this poor mountainside community! Education is a key part in fighting poverty. Haiti may seem so far away from Canada, and sometimes you want to help but don’t know how. Don’t worry, it’s easy to help! Here are some suggestions:
- Partner with Live Different and donate to our school. There are lots of operating costs associated with the school (teacher’s salaries, books, uniforms, supplies, water). Plus we need to build more classrooms too! /
- Come on our May 2013 Haiti trip. Meet the children and be a physical part of building new classrooms. Registration and trip info:/haiti
- Tell others about what we are doing! This is a story worth telling! Share this story on facebook or email it to your friends!
These children are valuable. Their future is valuable and we want to see them become the men and women they were meant to be, and you can be a part of helping that happen!
Manager of Operations for Dominican Republic and Haiti