In October 2011, I had the remarkable privilege to go to Haiti. This was through the generous gift given to me by Sewickley Academy through the Sculley Sabbatical Grant. It was an experience that changed my life and sank deep into my heart. You can read about my 2011 trip here.
I spent a week in two different orphanages with children and leaders, teaching in their school and encouraging teachers in the EBAC orphanage. I also spent time with the younger children of the IDADEE orphanage. One day we piled into the back of a truck with nine sick babies and carried them to a medical clinic over bumpy, washed-out roads. Little Loveka was my special charge.
Early this past December, I had the wonderful opportunity to return to Haiti for a long weekend. Much happened in a year. The joys of returning to the IDADEE orphanage to see the children and have happy, healthy little ones climbing all over us warmed my heart. Their calls and cheerful singing filled the air as we arrived. One year older now, a healthy, energetic Loveka jumped into my arms. Since last year, 11 new little ones have come to live at IDADEE. They now have a little schoolhouse where they are beginning early learning lessons. They love marching over to their own little school for lessons, an outdoor pavilion lined with small benches.
|In October 2011, Kathy holds Loveka, an orphan in need of medical attention.||One year later, a healthy, energetic Loveka jumps into Kathy's arms.|
The children at IDADEE especially love the times when they can come out to play on their wonderful new playground. Colorful spring horses, a see-saw, balance beams, climbing structures, and slides delight them. Donations from the Academy community, along with other organizations, funded the playground this past year, and the children love it. Their playful laughter reflects their joy.
Many other programs have been put into place in the past year as well: community summer day-camp experiences, a soccer sports program, food distribution, community learning clubs, and special, extensive reading programs for adults and children. All these activities enhance the community outside of the orphanages, helping to educate people in basic life skills, teaching them to take responsibility for their lives, and bringing bits of hope and healing to people who are deeply affected by poverty, health, and education issues. Leaders are beginning to work together on difficult issues that face their communities. Haitians are stepping up to take on leadership roles in their areas of influence. Life is difficult, but promising steps are being taken.
How grateful I am that the Academy has encouraged me to stay invested in these dear people. The connection between the children in Haiti and the children of Sewickley Academy continues to grow stronger as letters are exchanged and friendships grow deeper among our children and theirs.
As these connections are strengthened, we can continue to look for ways to support and encourage these hard-working Haitians who are so committed to making positive change a reality. Perhaps we at the Academy can find ways to support the growing reading program that has begun there. Learning to read opens up a world of empowerment and change for these Haitians, young and old. May our hearts and hands always remain open to these special friends as we reach out to serve those in need.
This blog is written by Grade 2 teacher Kathy Boehmig.