Excitement, wonder, joy, fear. We saw all those emotions in the faces of the Haitian boys and girls lined up to receive the polo shirts for their new school uniforms. In the past, most of the high quality secondary schools have been in Port au Prince, and many of these were destroyed or damaged in the huge earthquake almost three years ago. Some of the rubble has been cleaned up in the capital city, but little actual rebuilding has taken place.
We imagined what the kids were thinking as they waited for their shirts. Would L’Exode Secondary School really be dedicated the next day and would classes open soon after that? Would it have the same quality of education as the primary school nearby, also called L’Exode? Would the rest of the campus, designed by architecture and engineering faculty and students at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, actually get built in this remote village in southern Haiti?
The next day we saw the same emotions in the faces of the students’ family members. Younger brothers and sisters could picture themselves marching into the opening event of their high school experience. Mothers and fathers could picture their sons and daughters graduating and maybe going on to a university. Meanwhile, they could stay in close contact during these high school years.
We saw hope on the faces of the L’Exode students and their families and hope has been in short supply in Haiti. So many development projects have been attempted in Haiti. Few have made a dent in the poverty and despair one sees everywhere in Haiti.
But this is a day for hope, for praising God that the school is ready to open. And we who came to join the celebration got to be a part of that special day in Fond des Blancs.
Contributed by Lon Fendall, West Chehalem