I came to Haiti in 1992. I remember walking into the street with a globe. I wanted to show people the world. A school-teacher came by and held the globe…upside down. He couldn’t find Haiti. He was teaching third grade. The lady who was teaching reading and writing at that time was unable to write her own letter of application for the job. It’s not that the school was hiring the wrong people. These were the cream of the crop in many ways…at that time. Education in this town was rare. Many people considered a person with a 6th-grade education to be ‘finished’ with school. Few were the individuals who were able to leave town and attend high school classes.
That was almost thirty years ago now.
Last weekend I attended a meeting that was hosted by a young man who was probably an elementary student here in Pasbwadom when I arrived. He didn’t attend the school where I worked, so I don’t know him very well. I do remember his family, and I remember the children leaving town for higher education. This young man is now a clear thinking, clear speaking leader. As he led the meeting, I couldn’t help but think of so many meetings I had attended years ago that lacked this kind of leadership. It is no wonder organizations and groups in our area could never make much progress. There was nothing close to this kind of vision and communication in the leaders back then.
Today I sat down with a young man who is deep into his first year of college. He finished high school right here in Pasbwadom. He played in the brass band for years. He was sharing stories with me about a public speaking course he is attending. He shared his experience of being the “little fish” again after enjoying the status of “high school senior” last year. His vision is so much larger now. His standards have been raised. He is growing at an amazing rate…as so many freshmen in college do.
I am blessed to be able to see these things. So many teachers and missionaries do not have the chance to follow up with their students. I have witnessed dramatic changes in the lives of people. It is rewarding to see, and inspiring. I realize now that the young kids who are hanging out today here at the ASAPH Teaching Center will not yet finish high school before I am pretty old. I could say to myself : “I’ll never reap any benefits from helping these kids. I’ll never see who they turn out to be.” OR, I can say : “I want to do even better with this group than I did with the group that has gone by already.”
I am glad to have invested in the lives of the folks here in this community. They are special. They are deserving of blessings. Their road is a tough one. Here’s hoping my work has helped them to move forward down the road of life.
Missionary in Haiti.