I have the honor of spending this week in Haiti, working on the foundations of an American-style school in St. Marc. The school has operated since 1995 (same as HCA, by the way) under Youth With A Mission (YWAM), but has always struggled to stay alive with limited funding and inconsistent staff and faculty. Our ministry, New Vision Ministries, has chosen to take over the directorship of this school, and to try to establish real Christian education in St. Marc, a city of over 100,000, but without any quality schools.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of schools in St. Marc, but the Haitian government schools are pitifully run, and even moreso than in America (amazingly enough), they completely rely on standardized tests to determine success. Since I mentioned it, let’s all step back and think about this for a minute…If my kid can recite enough information to pass a test that his teacher did not create, should I really be satisfied as a parent? Has he actually learned anything? Or is he just a good memorizer? There is a big difference between producing a great thinker, and a Trivial Pursuit Champion. OK, off the soapbox and back to my day…
While I have been working in schools in Haiti for years, most of my work has been in meeting basic physical needs. We feed children lunch, who would otherwise go hungry. We deliver school supplies to kids who could never afford them. We provide uniforms to poor kids who are not allowed to go to school without them. We sponsor teachers and principals to provide leadership in schools that cannot possibly pay their employees. And all this is wonderful and fulfilling to say the least. However, the potential in this school will be different from the others I have worked in.
For one thing, this school is led by American teachers, uses American curriculum, and focuses on the values of Western Christian culture, like honesty, integrity, respect, etc. You might say, it is very arrogant to claim that the American way of education is better than the Haitian way. Maybe, but I have spent enough time here over the years to easily support that claim 1000 fold. Plus, real arrogance would be to have a great thing and refuse to share it with those who are in need. We were blessed to have eight American young ladies volunteer to spend a year in Haiti to get the school off to a good start. Five of them are going to teach, and the other three are helping with the logistics of running the school, including our own Elizabeth Johnson (HCA class of 2009). And, of course, my good friends, Kerry and Joy Reeves are going to oversee this process as another commponent of New Vision Ministries.
So far, we have 31 students signed up to attend Liberty Academy this school year, most of them in K-5, but about six of them in middle/high school. Our hope is that the school will mirror HCA’s mission in Equipping Children Today to become God’s Leaders Tomorrow. As desperate as the United States is to have true Christian leadership, Haiti is infinitely more desperate. I am sitting in a country that has over 80% unemployment, and 50% literacy. The people here are taught to grab what they can get, even if it means lying, cheating, and manipulating. I know you may be thinking that it is that way in America these days as well, but at least we know it is wrong. These things are so engrained in the Haitian culture that they don’t think twice about it. It is very difficult to alter a culture, but if you are going to do it, it must begin with the children. This is our opening.
The school will be an English-only school. There are several reasons for this. One, if a Haitian kid learns English, his chances of survival and success in this world muliply greatly. Secondly, all the quality curriculum is written in English. Third, it is so much easier to find good English-speaking Christian teachers. I have spent this week working with these teachers, training them in scriptural world-view education, sharing with them classical methodology, and praying that God will choose to give them success. These young ladies have come with a wonderful attitude and a sacrificall heart. None of them will be paid for teaching this year. It is their sacrifice to the Lord.
This is the second international school that HCA has had a hand in creating and supporting over the past three years, the other in Lares, Puerto Rico. Please pray that God continues to allow us to have an impact for His kingdom in Hickory, North Carolina, and around the world. I am honored to represent each of you as I look into the eyes of these precious children who are seemingly born without hope, and to point them in the direction of their only rescuer, Jesus Christ. Just as He is the only reason that HCA is great, He will be the only reason that hope comes to the hopeless in Haiti, or anywhere else in the world. Please join me in praying for Liberty Academy this year. To whom much is given, much is required. HCA has been given so much. It is awesome to be able to share our gifts in such tangible ways.
See you next week, and tell your kids to behave while I am gone! Thanks again, Gayle, for holding down the Robinson fort while I have been gone. You are wonderful and amazing.
|Liberty Academy Faculty and Staff, including Liz Johnson from HCA (far left)|
|Liberty Academy, St. Marc, Haiti|
|View from the other side|
|First and Second Grade Classroom|
|Pillow Case dress made by my mom for
Gigi Ville, one of our sponsored kids.