Five years ago, we first wrote about the “education triangle”, and we updated the original post in 2022 when we opened The Barefoot School.
Speaking from experience, Mrs. tVM and I spent countless hours at the kitchen table helping our children with their schoolwork and encouraging them to complete it. I say with 100% certainty that not a single child at The Barefoot School HAS a kitchen table because few if any live in a ‘home’ that has more than a single room.
Taking it another step, most of our student’s parents never went to school, and because they didn’t, most parents can offer little educational support to their children.
Humankind fails miserably in education. We discussed this over a year ago in our post “The Rights of the Child” as we prepared to open The Barefoot School.
Well into the second year of The Barefoot School, Justin and I have been discussing adult education for several months. His original budget – minimal by any standards – was beyond our reach as we conserve the resources we do have to ensure The Barefoot School can feed its students through July when the school year ends.
Justin surprised me one week ago when he told me, “Alphabet School started today. I spoke with director Abner so we started in the middle of March. Adults were impatient for school.” It is encouraging to know that the adults in this challenging environment are impatient for a school to open for them. Justin and his staff opened the doors to their ‘literacy school’ on Monday without resources and without funding. They invited adults to come to the school for 90 minutes – 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm – at the end of each day to learn the alphabet.
By midweek, our school building was filled with 120 adults anxious to learn the alphabet so they can learn how to print their names. I see hope in the hopelessness etched on many of their faces. Because I see that hope, I commit myself to helping them help themselves. I am reminded of the words of Dr. Albert Schweitzer, “Sometimes our light goes out, but is blown again into instant flame by an encounter with another human being.” It works both ways.
As Justin shares these pictures from the first week of The Alphabet School, I see encounter after encounter of human beings interacting with each other – and interacting with you and with me – to make this world a better place to be.
At $10,662, our budget is minimal. Although the bulk of it – $8,955 – is for books, I consider the heart of it for consumable supplies like paper, pencils, chalk, and notebooks. That is where we are directing extra funds that we receive.
When Gail Rongen and I started our work with the Guepard Boxing Club of Cité Soleil [GBCCS] in 2017, sixteen individuals and families stepped up to help us raise the funds to enable our team in Haiti to do its work. Our initial mission was and remains to keep as many children off the street and away from gang influence as we can. As the scope of our project expands, so our budget increases.
Our direct giving program is simple: If Chico gives me $10, I send the $10 directly to Haiti; after he and I agree, Justin makes the required purchase [food, school supplies, etc.], takes a photo of the purchase, and sends me a photo of the receipt. EVERY donated penny gets to the children we support.
During the initial years, we operated without a budget, hand-to-mouth as it were, but since 2021, we work with a budget that Justin develops and we study and approve in the USA. In 2021, our original cadre of 16 participants raised $13,446. Last year, our cadre of donors grew to 30 participants, and we raised over $50,000.
Our second year of The Barefoot School will conclude in July as will The Alphabet School. We have the reserves in our coffer to feed the children through the end of school. We are planning an educational outing for the students later in the summer.
Even as I write, I know Justin is working on our budget for the next school year which God willing will commence in September.
If you would like to participate in the work that we do in Citè Soleil, Haiti, please reach out with this contact form, and we will respond ASAP and explain how you can help.