Meet the 3 year olds! Every school day, these amazing teachers wrangle over 50 of these darling little munchkins into one classroom so that they can sing together and get charged up for the day. I get to come in at 9:15 to do about 10-15 minutes of English with them (and yes, they love the Hokey Pokey too!) So impressed with the teachers’ dedication and positive attitude!
What fun it is to teach and encourage! In the morning I teach the little ones (3’s, 4’s and 5’s) for about 15 minutes each. The 3’s is a group of about 50! Too cute for words! At 1:00 today, Alex and I started to teach the teachers. They’re so darling the way they make each other laugh! Then at 4:00, Alex and I team up again to teach the young people. I’m so impressed because they have to walk very far on the mountain road to get to class. Everyone (me most of all) is getting excited about how fun it is to learn English!
Today I had the privilege of sitting in with the youth group that Alex leads. These are the kids first grade and up. They all come for a little over an hour on Sunday afternoons to spend time, play, sing, dance, pray and laugh together. Many of them participate in the new choir, open to the younger kids, that was recently started. They have “free choice” time, then they all come together for sharing time. If they have something they want to share with the group, they are encouraged to do so! Alex asked me if I had anything I wanted to say, and at first I said “no”, but then it occurred to me that they might enjoy the Hokey Pokey, so we did it! 🙂 Here are a couple of pictures of the group.
So… “What’s the BIG idea?” you ask? It’s called a compost latrine. Children’s Academy has built one and it’s one of the smartest (and cleanest) latrines I’ve ever seen! So picture your typical port-a-potty. You’re either fighting that all too familiar smell or the overwhelming waft of chemicals that they use to overcome the smell. But with his latrine, all odor is eliminated!
Each time the kids go in, when they’re finished, they scoop up a couple of trowels of sawdust and throw them into the toilet. The sawdust absorbs so efficiently that the waste is virtually odorless! When they get enough, the men empty the latrines and mix it all together, setting the compost aside to let it “rest” until it’s ready for the garden. And their vegetable/flower gardens are spectacular! Patricia Arquette actually came to the school to promote the project! Here’s the link to her interview with Alex in 2013. When you see the garden in the video, it doesn’t look like much. Tomorrow I’ll take some photos of the gardens today 🙂
Today I was able to spend most of the day at school. I spent the morning with the 4 and 5 year olds on the playground and in the classroom, watching them play/learn and teaching them a bit of English. I certainly don’t understand everything they’re saying, but there is a universality to the spectrum of abilities represented by 27 children, as well as how they tease each other when the teacher’s back is turned. 🙂 They love the little playground and pile on the toys, sharing space with only the slightest punctuation of tears if they don’t get their way. Overall, there is joy.
In the afternoon I spent time with the young people in their English class. It’s very informal and they were talking about their houses (describing them, etc…), so when they invited me to participate, we did a little story about Cristiano Ronaldo (star soccer player) and his 3 houses (one in Spain, one in Haiti and one in Brazil). The biggest problem was that his mansion in Brazil, where he has 40 bedrooms and all his soccer teammates live, only has one bathroom!. It was a lot of fun!
We arrived on campus this morning and the aroma of freshly baked bread was pervasive! They’ve begun a new business on the campus of the Children’s Academy. It’s a bakery that is being run by an expert baker who lost his own bakery to the earthquake. He’s been working very diligently with his staff to develop a new and more nutritionally rich recipe for a bread roll that will very soon be ready for market! They’re on the cusp of volume production! When we arrived at the bakery this morning, coincidentally, a batch was just coming out of the large oven (pictured in the photo), so we simply had to try one. Absolutely delicious! : )
At 4:53 today, we had a few minutes of silence……………….to remember the 40 seconds it took to devastate a country. I had no idea it was just 40 seconds…and new friends here tell me that the first 20 seconds was the “build up”… That’s even more incredible! 20 seconds for buildings to crumble, homes to collapse and untold thousands to lose their lives…. 5 years ago today… at 5:43 pm.
I was honored to be invited to the ceremony at the school today. About 100 people showed up around 4:00 pm for time to remember, to share with the young ones who are too young to remember. It was precious. We took little chairs from the classrooms and all sat in one big circle on the playground. Circles are important to this community. Everyone has a voice. Everyone is invited to share.
A girl started a song. Everyone joined in. A couple of men stood up and shared where they were in those horrific moments and in the days/weeks to follow. The little ones listened intently. Then a woman stood up and said that although it had been a terrible day, she was so happy because they now have this amazing school where before they’d had none. Their community, in her opinion, was stronger than ever and there was every reason to have hope for a bright future for her children.
Then the choir, named WOZO, started singing. I found out that WOZO means “resilient”, what a perfect name! Children and teenagers who sing for the joy of it. Here’s a photo and a clip of the choir singing for joy!
I’ll be leaving tomorrow afternoon, so I decided to try posting one more time before I forgot how… 🙂 Thank you so much for checking in. I’m very excited about this opportunity to teach and train teachers, as well as learn a lot more Creole myself! I thought you might like to see some photos of the place I’ll be staying. It’s beautiful! Here’s the link to the Photobucket. the home/guest house of John and Merline Engle. Na we pita!
Well, the next trip is on the books! I’ll be leaving on January 11th and returning February 11th! The organization I’ve committed to this time is called Haiti Partners (http://haitipartners.org/). They’re very excited to have an English teacher/teacher trainer coming for a visit! In order to share my journey more efficiently and with all those who might be interested, I’ve decided to try a blog. Hope this works! I know I’ll need the internet, but we’ll give this a try! I’ve never done this before, but I love learning new things, so here goes! Hopefully, as I learn more about WordPress, I’ll be able to share more things, but for now, I’m content to simply get this post up! Thank you for sharing this exciting journey with me!