These past three weeks in Child Sponsorships have been filled to the brim with first month of school necessities. And while it is such a blessing to have 3,000 students enrolled in our three different campuses this year, this means the three of us on staff for Child Sponsorships here in Haiti have had to buckle down, enter each student into the new database one-by-one and get school year photos taken in time to send out a profile card to all sponsors by November! As eventful as all of that has been, praise God that our last scheduled day of pictures was this past Friday at our newest campus in the mountains, Lascahobas, where almost 200 students are now enrolled.
Our beautiful mountain campus at Lascahobas
Getting to this school that is tucked away up in the mountains was far more adventurous for our small team than the actual picture-taking process. As we all piled into the very compact, very hot car that was assigned to us for the day, I’m sure few of us were actually prepared for the fact that it would take us almost three hours on windy, uphill, unpaved roads to find our way to Lascahobas. (If the guys did know about our adrenaline-filled car ride, they were smart to keep it a secret from me.) Finally arriving at the school’s gates (and kissing the ground out of sheer thankfulness for our survival), I immediately became anxious. Where were all of the students? Why was it so quiet? Mission of Hope’s main campus is always bustling with students going to and from their classes, enjoying their breaks and socializing with friends. Could it have been possible that this campus hadn’t even started school yet and that we took that insane car ride for nothing? Walking around to the main school building, I was shocked. Not only were the students all in attendance, but they were all completely silent, sitting at their desks and learning. Even the tiniest toddlers were perched in their miniature chairs, listening intently to the words of their teachers. It was almost an out-of-body experience for all of us as we lined the students up for their pictures and they continued to stand completely still and obedient.
Despite the fact that our time spent in the car that day far outweighed our actual time on the ground, it was such an inspirational experience for me to have the privilege of spending time with the children at our mountain campus. While the students at our other two campuses are equally as amazing in their own right, being able to see the vast influence that Mission of Hope has in Haiti to the point where we are reaching all the way out into small, untouched, oftentimes forgotten villages in the mountains is incredible. My heart was also being worked on during this trip as I had recently been having a hard time understanding why our schools are subject to such high rates of student absences. I already understood and was trying to accept the fact that school is not mandatory in Haiti and that can potentially lead to a lack of motivation; but if your schooling was already being paid for, why wouldn’t you attend? Traveling up those windy roads into the mountains opened my eyes to just how difficult it is for a majority of our students to even make it to school at all. I watched hundreds of students trek up the rocky terrain to their various schools as we made our ascent, oftentimes having to walk along curves that are blind to oncoming cars with their younger siblings in hand. Even many students at our main campus travel from far up in the mountains just for an opportunity to be the first in their family to receive an education. Driving back home last Friday and fighting to stay awake from the exhaustion that came with heightened emotions from our trip, I prayed that the understanding and sympathy to the various situations of others would stay with me during the entirety of my time with Child Sponsorships, even on those days when I am frustrated that our attendance is low during a tropical storm or those many times when a student can’t find a way to make it to school on the one day that their sponsor has come to visit them from the United States. Watching those children climb up the side of the mountain and already take such pride and ownership of their education made me even more thankful for mine: for the air conditioned classrooms where I sat and worked, for the abundance of supplies that just seemed to regenerate in the various classes throughout the school and especially for the school bus that got me there.
The students of School of Hope: Lascahobas