Missing The Kids' First Day
Just a couple of things to be aware of before getting into the blog:
- Giving Tuesday will be on Dec. 1 this year, and it will be more important for All Things New than it ever has been for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is Covid. We are already approaching $10,000 in potential matching grants from board members and donors, so stay tuned and help us raise even more this year than we did last!
- All of our kids except for Tony started school this past Monday. Tony did not because he was awaiting his results from his national 9th grade exam. This is a huge deal! Well, he sent me a message 2 nights ago and...HE PASSED! He was so excited, and he started his 10th grade year yesterday.
There are so many things that have been different since Covid shut down our country and changed a lot about all of our lives. It has been really hard trying to figure out even small things like how to interact with people and how to greet people when you cannot shake their hand. The bigger things have been much more difficult.
One of the really hard things is that we missed the kids's first day of the new school year this past Monday. Last year, with the unrest and protests, there was not really a first day of school. In fact, I sat down with the Director of Christianville and we discovered that our kids had less than 40 days of classes last year because of political issues and then Covid.
In Haiti, school is hope. I remember at our fundraiser last year, we had about 25 high school students volunteering to help. I asked each of them to raise their hand if they expected to earn a High School diploma and 100% of them raised their hand. Think about this:
- Over 90% of Americans age 25 and older have a High School Diploma or higher.
- Less than 1% of Haitians will finish classical school with a diploma.
The first day of school for us and our kids in Haiti is always a big deal. Jessica has always been so good at making them feel special and helping them to see how blessed they are to have a first day of school.
This year we were not able to be there with them for a lot of reasons. We are having to pick and choose when we can be there and trying to keep our kids safe through all that is going on and especially with Covid. That doesn't mean that it was not hard to not be there with them because it was.
I remember Jess always getting each of them to smile for individual pictures (a feat in itself), getting a great group shot, driving them and dropping each of them off at school, and telling them that we are proud of them for everything that they are doing.
The funny thing is that we are truly proud of all of them for how hard they are fighting and working to do well in school. You know, there are times with children that you pretend to be proud. Like when Ezekeyal shows us how much of his oatmeal he has eaten in the morning or Elijah shows us a picture that he has worked on for 30 seconds and thinks is a masterpiece. That is not the type of pride we feel for how our kids in Haiti are handling school.
Our kids in Haiti want this. Even the ones who are far too old for the grade they are in, they do not get discouraged. I have sat down with Chinaider on several occasions and given him the option to learn a trade and stop school, but he begs me each time to keep working and keep learning and he is starting 9th grade this year. Kervinson could have quit and gotten discouraged, but instead his sponsors stepped up and payed for a 1-on-1 tutor for him and he turned his entire academic life around over the course of 2 years.
We were sad to not be there for the kids' first day this year, but they have great employees like Gina who took pictures and sent them to us and Lener who got up early and made sure they had a ride to school for their entire first week.
What I hope that each of our supporters get out of reading this is a sense of pride for OUR kids! Feel proud of them for the work that they are putting in. We had exactly 1 child who has started school at the right age and has never had to miss a year of school because of money...Samara, and only because she was so young when she came to ATN. Every other child came to us at least 2 years behind where they should have been and many of them much more than that. But they have all worked to catch back up.
We missed being in Haiti on their first day, but we did not miss the pride that we feel for each of them for not giving up and for pushing as hard as they can to do as well as they can. Thank you for being proud with us and thank you for praying for us and supporting all that we do!