Last week we talked about the importance of education to the children and families of Haiti. We considered the rainy season and its impact on children’s efforts to further their educations. During our discussion we mentioned two of the schools in Haiti that are supported by the Cap Mona Angel Fund. This week we’ll make a verbal visit to the Saint Patrick Youth Center in southwestern Haiti. Next week, or soon thereafter, we’ll talk about the Cap Mona Professional School located in a more northern part of the country.
You may be aware that Haiti occupies the western portion of the island of Hispaniola, sharing it with the Dominican Republic to the east. You can picture Haiti as a backward “C”, its center filled with water and a central island that named La Go nave that runs much of the length of both coasts. The drive along the coast from Port au Prince, site of the region’s airport, to Petite Riviere, is about 58 miles in length. Despite this short distance it can take up to 6 hours to traverse due to traffic and road conditions.
Petite Riviere de Nippes is a rural community about half way along the northern coast of the southern arm of the “C”. It is home to Saint Patrick and many of its students, although some students come from as far away as 40 miles to attend the Center’s English classes. They are willing to travel such distances because in rural communities such as these educational opportunities are limited. Saint Patrick Youth Center is, in a sense, an outpost, offering education to many who would otherwise be unable to access it.
Classes in conversational English in five levels. Level I is for beginners. Level 5 is for the most advanced speakers. Graduates of Level 5 can participate in extensive conversations in English and have the skills they need to expand their vocabularies and enhance their mastery of their new language. Such knowledge is important for the students as individuals and Haiti as a while as all strive to improve the present and future of their beloved country. The leaders of tomorrow are the students of Saint Patrick today.
On the evening of Friday, May 11, a group of 70 students gathered to celebrate their recent advancement into new Levels of learning. The students laughed and talked together, primarily in English, and participated in several games that required the use of their new language. Assistant Director Makendy served as DJ, providing a fine selection of background music from English-speaking parts of the world. They were offered a bit of candy, fruit drinks, and a sandwich made of traditional Haitian ingredients. Some students introduced themselves and talked about their life goals in English. Others told brief stories.
One of the highlights of the evening was a motivational speech stressing the importance of education offered by a respected local teacher. The pictures here tell the story. The students were enthusiastic and are looking forward to their next Level completion and celebratory party. They are very much looking forward to the brighter future they are building through their studies at Saint Patrick.