Haiti Update - August 2017
by Vernon Giesbrecht
Education Crisis – In the U.S. and Canada the school year began towards the end of August. By now, it is in full swing. School supplies, new clothes, sports teams, music, drama, transportation, they are all a normal part of the lives of our students. Although there are educational challenges in our inner cities, they fade in comparison to the crises in education in Haiti. As the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti stands alone in the Caribbean with the highest rates of illiteracy and abject poverty. Over 50% live below the poverty line of $2.00/day and 40% cannot read or write. Public education is in disarray – costs are high for poor families; schools cover only 20% of the demand; untrained teachers contribute to the poor quality of learning; proper sanitation and equipment are in short supply.
Meeting The Need – Outside of personal spiritual transformation, a quality education is the key to lifting people out of poverty, and is a top-priority issue for the future of a country. It gives families “Hope”, an ingredient necessary in breaking the “hopelessness cycle” that poverty breeds. Double Harvest is meeting this need through the Aart Van Wingerden School (named after the mission’s founder), one of its ministries in Haiti. From 60 students in two classes in 1996, it now provides opportunity for up to 500 students, Pre-School – Grade 13. They come from around 30 villages in the area, arriving on bicycles, back of a motorcycle, taxi (Tap Tap), or by foot, some walking for an hour! With mandatory uniforms (all schools), their scrubbed appearance belies the poor conditions they call home.
Sponsorship – An Investment – A Sponsorship Program is in place, giving opportunity for compassionate individuals and churches to invest in the lives of these precious students at $45/month. We thank our faithful Sponsors for their support!! Our website gives more information on how you could be involved (Click on the underlined phrases above). Our School’s goal is to provide a quality education, trained Haitian teachers, a Bible curriculum, computer classes, decent facilities, a nutritious noon meal, and medical care by our on-site Medical Clinic. Beside academics, integrity, honor and respect for the teachers and each other are reinforced, values often not practiced in the culture. Above all, our staff desires that each student come into a personal relationship with Christ; this is the key to moral and spiritual transformation.
Scholarships – A Further Investment – We pray that the years spent at our school will shape both the knowledge and character of our students. However, many of our graduates will enter the world of 40% unemployment or remain underemployed. Donors rightfully ask: “Where do they go after graduation?” We see too much promise in these talented students to not take the next step. So, we have established a University Scholarship Fund to assist 25% of our top graduates. A $5.50/day investment, or $2000/year, will fund one student at a prominent university in Port-au-Prince, taking them to the next level of professional development in their careers. They and their skills are needed to rebuild this struggling country. Your financial help or related questions to this need will be welcomed!