Sunday, December 19, 2010

School in Savanette

From up at the rectory of the local church where we stayed, we could hear children in the school singing or reciting their lessons. Late one morning, Caroline and I went down with Father Erus to visit the school.

The room full of little children wearing pink shirts were getting ready to eat lunch. The white bucket on the table in the photo holds the rice and beans they will eat. For many, we were told, this will be their main meal of the day. For some children, this is the only meal they will have during the day.

The two women outside are cooking the lunch for the children. It's a simple meal of beans and rice and a gravy that is made of beans. All this is cooked on charbon fires.

The school has a couple hundred children and relies completely on the Catholic Church for donations. There are few books, let alone any other teaching instruments. A simple blackboard and chalk are the most basic tools of a Haitian School.

This is the only school in this town that operates consistently. There is a state elementary school and a state high school. For the few days we were there, neither state school was operating. I was told that sometimes professors come and sometimes not. Since they are paid sporadically, when they are long overdue their salary, they simply don't show up. Once they receive pay, they return to school.
Children come everyday and wait a bit to see if a teacher arrives. If teachers do not arrive, the children walk home. I remember on previous visits when leaving at 4.30 or 5 am to travel, the roads would be full of children walking to school. Some travel distances of several miles each day to attend school.
As I mentioned earlier, there are thousands who live in encampments in the countryside around Savanette. Many of those children living in the countryside walk several miles each day to attend school.

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