Our school year in Haiti concludes this week with final exams. We are planning a small party for teachers and students. But as the week commences, we must adapt to the forces in play around us. I awoke this morning to this headline in Le Nouvelliste, the Haitian newspaper I read daily…
The violence occurred yesterday, Sunday, July 10. The executive agent of Cité Soleil said, “The commune has no police officers, no peace court.” The newspaper reports, “Because of the clashes, the inhabitants of the besieged neighborhoods lack everything. Water, bread, underlined this source who says he saw the helplessness in the eyes of the police who could not help people wanting to flee.”
After reading the story in the paper, I reached out to my friend Justin who manages the Barefoot School. “The violence began on February 7, the date of the commemoration of the assassination of former President Jovenel Moise,” he tells me, “and so far the violence has never stopped. There are things I can’t say because I think they can bother you when you hear them.” That is a disturbing thought.
When I returned from the farm this morning, I had an email from our school principal, Abner. “Due to the violence of recent days,” he writes, “Justin and I feel it is unnecessary to conduct tests for children today. But we can still meet with the children to feed them. Thank you for your understanding, Mr. Gene.” I responded to Abner and Justin that they had made a good decision. The fact that they are prepared to feed the children speaks volumes about their courage and commitment.
We are trying to organize a summer camp during the summer break in August. As Justin explains, “The idea of the summer camp is to keep the kids away from the gangs and gang wars in Cité Soleil, and it will help us keep our eyes on the children and monitor them throughout the summer.” Key points in Justin’s proposal include:
- Monday through Friday, 0830 – 1230
- Each child will receive a cup of milk and a piece of bread when they arrive at 0830
- At 1130, each child will receive a meal
- Both sexes, boys and girls ages 6 to 17
- Promote the UNCRC Rights of the Child to which Haiti is a signatory.
- Give the children the opportunity to have fun in a space of leisure and cheerfulness during the summer vacation.
- Traditional outdoor games
- Jokes and riddles
- Brain games
- The children will be strengthened in areas of social cohesion, human relations, tolerance, living together, and conflict management
- We plan for 165 participants
It is a good plan born of compassion in a world of violence ignored by the international community. There are days when I want to pretend that Justin’s world does not exist, days when I want to turn away from his emails and messages, days I want to disregard his pleas for help. The moment passes when I acknowledge the fact that if I don’t accept his realities, if I don’t help, no one will. I am certain Justin and his friends face the same doubts that I do, but they remain committed knowing if they don’t step up to help the children in their community, no one will.
Our camp budget is just over $2,000 USD
Our Barefoot School needs your help. If you would like to join us, please use this contact form below to reach out with your questions, comments, and suggestions.