I know this post is going to sound strange, naive and maybe even a little stupid. When God put a desire in my heart to go to Haiti several years ago, I knew that I would be going with Hope for LaGonave. I also knew that Hope for LaGonave existed to start schools. When we finally got to a season of life where we could actually go to Haiti, (and I had sufficiently bugged my sweet husband into taking me) all I really thought about was going to SEE. I wanted so much to see the country, see the children, see the poverty, see what God was doing. I also wanted my sons to SEE. Missions trips to Mexico as a student profoundly affected my world view in a positive way and I wanted my privileged, American, white bread boys to see how the vast majority of the world lives. I never really thought about what purpose God would have for me in Haiti. I didn’t really think he would have a purpose for me to go. I know my place. I’m a busy stay at home mom. I homeschool three of our six children. I grocery shop, write lesson plans, and do dishes, diapers and laundry on a never. ending. carousel. Neither John nor I had any grand plans for mission work in a third world country.
It was strange, however, that on the flight from Miami to Port-au-Prince I had this thought in my busy buzzing brain…”How can I love a country so much, when I’ve never even been there?” I recall having similar thoughts when pregnant with each of my children, “How can I love someone so much and I’ve never even met them?” The simple answer is, of course, that God puts that love there. It is beyond human reason to love an unknown.
Now, I’ve returned. Haiti is no longer an unknown. I’m still dumbstruck as to how I can love the place. By man’s measures, there is little to commend Haiti. The denuded mountains whisper of the splendor that welcomed Columbus five centuries ago. The city is trashed to the point that one wonders if it is beyond all hope of restoration. The aquamarine sea actually has a mile-wide border of garbage. There is little wildlife, having been largely hunted to extinction for the starving masses. Corruption abounds.
So, why can I not stop thinking about Haiti? I dream of the place! Literally. I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep since returning. I dream every night about some aspect of the culture, the people, the land. I lie awake at night thinking….
Anyway, back to God having a purpose that I was neither seeking nor expecting: the first night on LaGonave, when Dumerle began speaking of a child struggling with school work, something clicked in me. My brain says: I know this! My degree from another life ago is in elementary education with a specialization in early childhood. I have special education certification. I’ve worked in schools. I’ve taught in classrooms. I’ve fought for struggling learners. Granted, even the poorest school where I once taught looked Ivy League in comparison to these village schools. But, they are essentially the same. Children are children. Teachers are teachers. Administrators are administrators.
I am thankful for that moment at Fifi’s table, because it caused me to go into those schools looking with an educator’s eyes. I looked to see what these teachers were pulling off despite all challenges. I saw curriculum and what was being done with extremely limited means.
One day after we returned, during school time I asked my boys to tell the girls about the bookshelves at the schools. We had been telling the girls so many things of Haiti, so Sam excitedly opened his mouth, paused, and then looked at me. “What bookshelves?”  Exactly. I didn’t see any either. The teachers taught the children from their “Mwen Kapab” workbooks and had received training through Hope for LaGonave. The upper level teachers were teaching wonderful things, too. But I couldn’t help but notice the lack of great literature. If I were on a deserted island (catch the irony here), and I had to teach a class of children….ok, well, it’s not SO deserted….what would I need most?
The first answer is easy….the Bible. These HFL teachers have them. They are ahead of the game! These children can have a better education than the vast majority of the world with this Book alone. They also have Joan Kornblatt’s delightful picture book “Mwen We Koule Yo (I See Colors)”.
(Go to the link to read about Joan’s amazing project!) In fact, the children have so cherished these books that they are literally being loved to pieces. So, what would I want after this? Living books of great literature. Abraham Lincoln proved that children did not need to grow up with a glut of books to be well educated. A few specially chosen books, well loved and cared for can mean a huge difference in the life of a child.
And there it is! That’s what I lie awake thinking about at night. I am in the process of tracking down great works of literature in French. There are SO few books of any kind in Kreyol, but the teachers can read French and the children are learning French in addition to Kreyol and this will make them well educated indeed. French is a beautiful and rich language. It is tricky finding good unabridged children’s lit in French, but I am slowly making progress. Funny how God took a bibliophile of a homeschooling mom and plunked her in a book starved land. I still don’t know if He has any long term arrangements for this Haitian love affair, but I love this current mini project! So far, I’ve found and purchased the French translations of The Complete Adventures of Peter Rabbit, Perault’s Fairy Tales, Pilgrim’s Progress and Treasure Island; one copy for each school. My plan is to weather resist them with plastic wrap and plastic boxes and get them to Barbara Freeman before she heads to LaGonave in June. I would love for the teachers to be able to begin the new school year with a book for each class. Wouldn’t that be a great start of a library for these schools? Currently, I’m waiting to save up enough to purchase some others I’ve found and searching for more quality translations of unabridged classics. I only wish I could be there when those tiny ones hear about Pierre Lapin’s antics with Monsieur McGregor for the first time!

Subscribe to get the latest news from us:
  Hope for LaGonave Logo