Back to School: How Things Are Accomplished

I am trying to stay with this blog series about the start of school, but there are so many crazy things to blog about here.  Even just recently, we found out that a tropical depression will be hitting here tomorrow evening and that there are 2 more tropical waves that could form soon.  Where we are, we should be ok if a storm like that hits Haiti, but we are definitely in the minority there.  Many people here would lose everything, some even may lose their lives as the country is really not setup for a natural disaster.  At the same time, elections (what seem more like a man-made disaster than anything) have been going on, and it is almost like fiction when you see some of the stories that come out about different candidates and how things are handled here.  In fact, if you were to write a novel about the craziest political climate you could imagine, my guess is that it would not come close to what truly happens here.  In the midst of this, Jessica and I are expecting our first child through the amazing journey of domestic adoption (click here to read our story).  But, the school process is so different than anything we are used to in America, I want to try and relate what happens here, so here it goes…

Today I want to talk about how things end up getting accomplished here.  To start with, let me relate a story that happened the day we began the “school process.”  It happened about the 3rd day after we returned to Haiti and we thought we would get a jump on everything.  So we had 3 schools we needed to visit including a new remedial school that we heard about close by that some of our older kids could attend.  (side note:  we were not happy with the afternoon school where our older kids had been enrolled in previous years, but we did not think we had another option until this year and we are very excited for Apolon, Tony, Fransline, Chinaider, Kervinson, Misthafa, and Gueline)  To make a long story short, we did not accomplish anything.  We tried to go to Christianville school where the majority of our kids attend and the person we needed to speak with was not there yet.  In fact, someone was there in his place so that Benoit (the person we needed) could take a vacation so we asked him if he could help us.  He said, “I cannot help you with that.”  So we asked who could help us to which he replied, “the secretary.”  So we then asked him where the secretary was and he told us that she was not there.  So we asked him when she would be there to which he replied 9:00…It was 9:45.  Clearly that meeting was not going to happen…
We then tried to set a meeting with one of the schools from last year to get report cards, but nobody was there either.  Finally, we made contact with someone from the remedial school, but they could not meet with us that day.  We did, however, schedule 1 meeting!  I might add that we wanted to send Lener in to Leogane to find some of the books, but we could not get the book lists until we met with people from each school, and we could not meet with people from the school until they came to work, and they would not come to work until they decided it was time.  Anyway, this is a normal day trying to accomplish something…You go from place to place doing nothing but just showing your face and you hope eventually something good will happen.

So, the first day of trying to accomplish things was a bust, but we knew from last year to not get too discouraged.  It is just kind of how things happen.  We did, however, set an appointment with what we hoped would be our new remedial school and the next day we met the administration there.  After that meeting, we were thrilled with what they said.  They talked about extra help for our children who really needed it, different classes for our older kids so they would not be in the same class as kids 6-9 years younger than them, and they also told us that they do not use “corporal” punishment.  It is very common for teachers at schools here to punish students in that way, and we were not going to have it this year.  So we left encouraged and knowing that this new school was the way to go for our children…That is until about 4 days later when the administrator came to Hope Rising to tell us that the school would not open until October 5.  Every other school in Haiti was set to open on September 7, and we were just not ok with having school start a full month later.  So, we thought, back to the drawing board.

At this point, however, we did not know what to do.  We knew that we would not send our kids back to the afternoon school, but we did not have any other options.  At the same time, we had unsuccessfully tried to reach the primary director at Christianville, register Hiwerli (our newest addition to All Things New back in April) for school, and find Misthafa’s report card from last year because that school just would not give it to us.  We were at a stalemate.  Nothing seemed to be happening, and to make matters worse, we did not know where 7 of our children would go to school.

But then, because things always seem to happen like this, in one day we accomplished everything!  We went to a meeting at the remedial school to let them know that we were not happy about the late start date, and magically, the start date had been moved up to September 14!  Initially they told us that construction would not be ready and that they still needed to plant flowers to make everything beautiful.  In all honesty, we told some friends of the administrator that we were not going to send our kids to school there anymore because of the late start date, and the administrator knew that that meant 7 new students who would pay for everything up front would no longer be attending.  I am pretty sure that is why school now starts on September 14.  After leaving that meeting feeling accomplished, we went to another school to register Angena for 8th grade, and we did everything in about 15 minutes!  We were on a roll.  So, we stopped by Christianville school to see what we could accomplish, and we registered all 19 children who attend there, paid for all of the books that they have in the administrator’s office, registered Hiwerli, and got book lists for every grade.  After about 2.5 weeks of nothing, we accomplished everything we needed to in about 2 hours.  On those days, you don’t ask questions, you just say thank you and go back home knowing that for that one day you were successful.

Our next battle, however, might be the worst back-to-school battle there is…books.  Stay tuned, but let me fill you in on what has happened so far…ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!  We have sent Lener in 3 times already, and he has called on numerous other occasions and the bookstore is just completely out of books.  We have yet to find 1 book on any child’s list.  I guess since there is still 2 weeks before school starts, we are just starting entirely too early…We will let you know how this part of the back to school process plays out soon.

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