Since I last wrote there have been some developments in the internet situation. At this point we have given up the idea of fixing our old system and are trying to get used to the jump drive modems. On the bright side we have found that on the roof of our house we can get an excellent connection. On the downside the offices still do not get a good signal but with Krischelle and Bonita both gone right now it is not affecting us too much. When they return we will probably just have to adapt to a new way of internet life.
With this discovery of the good connection on the roof I have no more excuses not to update the blog! So, without further ado…
The last month has been an interesting one. The government prohibited any schools from opening before October first so we had to push back our opening date almost a whole month. In a sense it was like slamming on the brakes when you were going 80 mph. All plans for the start of a new year went on hold. In the meantime, though, no one has been bored! Samuel has been particularly busy with preparations for the teachers’ house. With the extra time available he decided to work with some of the youth instead of with professionals. This has given the youth a lot of valuable experience but poor Sam is exhausted! As the deadline got closer and much work was still left to do, Gulbert joined the team. As I type this (it is 7:30pm) I can hear the guys pounding away, getting the ridge caps on. Today a group of masons started plastering the inside while Sam worked on getting the doors in. Sam did an excellent job with the roof plans and it is really shaping up to be a beautiful house.
Still working after dark
Although losing a month of school is not beneficial to any of our students, we were particularly concerned about the sixth grade. At the end of sixth grade students must pass a government-issued exam. The pressure is extremely high for these students. Our students already are at a disadvantage do to lack of exposure to French, parents who cannot help them because they themselves did not go to school, and malnutrition that affects their ability to learn and in some cases has stunted brain development. Instead of allowing them to lose the whole month, and only increase their disadvantages, we had two of our teachers start working this month, giving lessons just to the sixth grade class. One focused on math while the other did French, the biggest challenges for our students.
Now the month that seemed so long when school was pushed back is almost over and we are again gearing up for the start of school. Tomorrow the teachers from Port-au-Prince arrive and Thursday and Friday of this week will be staff orientation days. Saturday morning will be a work day and then in the afternoon we will head to the beach and start the year off with some fun and a time of prayer. We hope the days of orientation can unify our staff and build excitement for the new year as well as deal with the more mundane items. I look forward to posting pictures! School will not start till October first so Monday will be a staff work day getting all the last minute details taken care of. Then TUESDAY!!! I am particularly excited this year as we have changed school uniforms and I can’t wait to see what they look like on all the kids.
In addition to being a full month it has been a particularly “heavy”one as well. Manis grandfather passed away last week and his final days, the wake, and the burial preparations have brought to the surface much of the spiritism that is very much alive here but that we don’t see quite as much of any more. Over the past six years or so much of the spirit worship has gone “underground”. It is still very much real and active – instilling fear, destroying lives, but it is not as open as it once was. We do not often hear the ceremonial drums and chanting in our community anymore. But this month brought much of it out again. It is a reality check to what we are actually facing here and it is a heart-wrenching reminder to keep our priorities straight.
On a brighter note, we are excited to share that Mezou (Mezilien Servius) passed his final state exam and has officially completed high school! He is the first of his siblings to hit this milestone. I would launch into a full bio on Mezou but this has already gotten rather long so I will save that one for another post. 🙂 Suffice for now to say that he has had a large part in ninety percent of the trees planted on campus and in our yard.
One final note: I know that many of you would like to know more about the people we work with and hear stories from their lives. We hear you. As we work to establish other methods of communication besides the blog we may be able to share a bit more candidly. Please understand the need for sensitivity in what we share here on the blog. I try not to put anything on here about people’s lives that I would not want shared with the world wide web about my own.