The past three months here in Haiti have been very challenging. Because of the violence resulting from the political unrest in the country, I was pretty much sequestered to my house for the first month as a safety precaution. There were daily reports of people being killed or seriously injured just for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Some of those people were known to the boys. Many days teachers did not show up to teach at the school and I prayed more fervently everyday for the safety of our group as they traveled between work, school and my house for studying/tutoring and our weekly DefiA (Challenge). After the interim president was appointed and it became safer for me to be out of the house, there were still reports of violence. We all use caution when going anywhere, particularly anywhere outside of our immediate neighborhood.
The second month was filled with the ups and downs of dealing with government agencies as we worked to get legal documents corrected for the boys and I applied for my Permis De Sejour, which allows me to stay in Haiti longer than three months at a time. I am happy to report that we have been successful in getting Matricule Fiscals for everyone in the first group to transition out of Zanfan Lakay while having them invest in the process by paying 1/3 of the cost. (This was done with micro-loans and only one of them has overestimated the date he’d be able to pay back the money but I am confident that he will.) A Matricule Fiscal is similar to a Social Security number but of greater importance for Haitians as it is needed to rent a house, purchase a car, set up internet service in one’s home, purchase a home, etc. Haiti did grant me permission to stay and we will be conducting tutoring and DefiA throughout the summer and as well as through the school year.
We are making a lot of headway with financial management which is more challenging in Haiti than first meets the eye… particularly with the inflation rate here. When I came to Haiti in October the US dollar was equal to 45 gourdes; today it is anywhere between 61-65 gourdes, depending upon where you go.
I am very excited about their academic achievements and realize we have a long way to go. Third quarter report cards came out recently. On average the boys have raised their report card grades 28.2% from the grades they received at the end of the first quarter of school! (The lowest was a 9% increase and the highest was a 58% increase. Everyone’s grades have improved.) There’s still much room for improvement and most have at least five, maybe six, years to go before being graduated from high school..
Last weekend we rewarded the 4 top scoring individuals in our weekly DefiA by taking them to a very nice beach just outside of Port au Prince. We incorporated Reading Comprehension into the Scavenger Hunt but the rest of the day was for them to enjoy as they chose. Some chose various water sports, basketball, exploring the grounds and/or just hanging out. It was an extraordinary day for the four guys who went and I am certain that the competition will be even greater during our second round of DefiA as everyone will want to be one of the four going to the next Big Event in July.
We’ve also been able to get driver’s licenses for 3 of the boys (and potential jobs for 2 of them), provide incidental medical care and provide over 1200 meals so far!! (Not counting the meals that the boys handed out to the less fortunate people living by the downtown cathedral.) These guys pitch in and help in any way they can. They are hardworking. They remember where they came from. They are sensitive to the needs of others. God has great plans for each of them and it is a beautiful thing what He is doing here, with and through these guys.
We couldn’t do all that we do without your financial support and your prayer support. Please pray about how God may want you to be involved in the lives of these young people. Perhaps it is financial support. Perhaps it is being able to donate prizes for our weekly DefiA winners. Perhaps it is materials for learning English. Perhaps it is something I haven’t thought of. Perhaps it is prayer. Perhaps it is in sharing our story with a friend. Perhaps it is personally coming to Haiti. Only God knows for sure so please pray about how He may want you to be involved and then respond accordingly.