In Septemeber 2008, I traveled 6000 miles to Haiti's Kenscoff mountains. My mission: to care for some of the orphaned and abandoned, the sick, malnourished and premature infants of this beautiful but beleagured Caribbean nation.

Sunday 21 September 2008

Calebasse Christian School

Today was special. We visited a local mission school. The school is run by a Haitian couple and serves some of the poorest children in our area. These children receive a basic education and a hot meal every day that they attend.

To get there we had to take a bone jarring journey across rocky, pot-holed mountain roads. The 5 mile drive took almost 30 minutes as we made a tortuous ascent that narrowed and wound around cliff edges. The sheer drops down into the valleys below were unguarded. The route must be absolutely trecherous when it rains.

The trip was well worth it. We traveled to the Calebasse Christan school with 3 Canadians, who are volunteering at GLA. Jack, Caryn and John are in Haiti with Active Christians with a Mission (ACWAM). Their organisation has partnered with the Calebasse mission. ACWAM run a sponsorship programme and they raise funds and gather supplies to support this rural Haitian school.

The Haitian primary schools have been closed until October. It is hoped that by then, some semblance of normality will have returned to this nation, which was devastated by 4 tropical storms in August-September.

Although school is not in session at the Calebasse mission, the The principal (Nixon Dorlus, shown below in the green shirt) and most of his staff, were present today to run Sunday school, which is operating as normal at the school. The principal greeted us with hugs on our arrival. His wife and mother kissed us.

It brought tears to our eyes to hear the childrens' singing. Theyhad all arrived in their best clothes. Many of the girls wore ribbons in their hair and were dressed in old-fashioned knee-length dresses with puffed sleeves. In Haitian churches, females must dress modestly. Midrifts and shoulders are always covered. Some children brought their toddler siblings and an elderly couple also attended.

Everyone was encouraged to participate. Some of the boys had tambourines. 3 of the teachers played guitars and flutes and a reluctant Caryn was roped into several duets. Some of the children also got up to sing, alone or in pairs. The songs were in English and Kreyol.

I was glad to have the chance to observe older Haitian children. They watched us shyly. For the most part, they were quiet and respectful, although an hour into the service, they did begin to squirm, and chat among themselves. If I am honest, my concentration was also drifting at that point. Gift bags filled with sweet treats from Canada soon got the childrens' attention!

Afterwards we toured the school and were treated to a traditional Haitian meal of fried chicken, plantains and salad. I wondered why the principal's wife, mother and children had not joined us at the table. Later, I learned that in traditional Haitian households, women and children eat after the men. Apparently, Caryn, Amanda and I were elevated to the status of Haitian men for the day. It is a dubious honor but I for one appreciated the humility of this family. Nixon helped to set the table and even cleared our plates away when the meal was finnished.

His passion for the children in his community is plain to see. This morning, his teachers preached to the children about being humble before God. The little ones in these photographs are blessed to have the chance to receive a basic education, provided by dedicated teachers, who are such true and honest witnesses to the Christian faith. In the context of an extremely patriarchal culture, these men teach the children that they are first in God's Kingdom. God's love for them is not just something they talk about at this school.

I am enjoying my work at the orphanage very much, but it was good to see and experience another side of Haiti. I left the mission with a sense of hope for these children and this country.


Anonymous said...

Thanks once again for sharing your experience with us. I am sure the children of Haiti will only benefit from the love you and others give.

Anonymous said...

As you know today is Nanas birthday,and she would have been your biggest supporter in sharing God's love with these children.

Anonymous said...

The John that you mention as a member of the ACWAM team happens to be my dad. I found your blog by chance! Dad has told me many stories about the beautiful angels at the orphanage. Perhaps one day I will travel with him to Haiti; he and my mom have plans to go back in early December.

You too are an angel. God bless YOU, and all of the men and women who make Haiti a better place, one child at a time.

Stephanie said...

This was a beautiful glimpse into another facet of Haitian life. Thank you!

John said...

Hello, We too have been and are activie in calebasse haiti. we have establised a clinic there and will there this spring. I enjoyed reading about your trip. please keep up the good work. Our church here in the US Ohio sponsors 8 church's in Haiti and we operate out of the main church in Calebasse. God bless you and the work you do for the Haitian people.

Christi said...

I went to Calebasse in 1998 with Teen Missions International. Since the earthquake, I have been searching for any information on it. Even though your blog is from 2008, I enjoyed reading about what has been going on there in recent years. God Bless!