Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Back to School, Haitian-style

For most of the world, the months of August & September means the end of vacation and getting ready for “back to school”. Here in Haiti, kids and families are also getting ready but it looks a little different. Rather than going home, for many families returning to school means going away. Many communities don’t have schools within walking distance so the kids are getting ready to go and live with friends and families in more developed regions.

The past decade has seen a lot of changes in Pignon, Haiti, where we live and work. Back in 1993, Caleb founded the very first secondary school in the community of 30,000 plus. For the first time, kids could live with their families and attend school beyond 6th grade. At first, some parents didn’t think a school in our small town could compete with schools in the cities. The majority of students who did enroll were from families who could never have afforded to send their children before. It’s been thrilling to see students who are the first members of their families to ever finish 6th, then 10th grades, and then even finish high school.

However, similarities to stateside preparations do exist: buying material and sewing uniforms, finding notebooks, pens and textbooks. This past Sunday one announcement in church struck me with yet another huge difference. The pastor announced there was to be a day of prayer and fasting for the new school year. No one in the audience was surprised as this is an annual, expected event. Teachers, administrators and parents (& some students) arrive early in area churches to pray for God’s blessing and especially His provision for the coming year. Even enrolling for school is an act of faith for many families in our neighborhood. These parents do not know for certain where the tuition and supplies will come from. But those who are believers know Who their source is.

Please be praying with us for area schools, their teachers and administrators who step out in faith every year. Also, if you want to help a student, our sponsorship program needs more donors who are willing to give $25 monthly to pay tuition/meals, uniforms and supplies for a student.

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