January 2022

Greetings from Haiti! Apologies for The Road to Hope blog hiatus – I was busy taking my college finals, spending time with my family over the holidays, and then traveling to Haiti. I was there doing an independent study for my International & Global Studies major and Public Health minor. While this was my primary focus, I was able to visit The Road to Hope school in Nordette (called St. Patrick’s School of Nordette.) We did some art projects and I checked up on program operations by sitting down and talking with the principal, several teachers, and a few Community Health Workers. I am happy to report that things are going amazing! The last time we have had Americans check in in-person was right before the pandemic, in March 2020. Now, almost two years later, the school and all its various community support aspects such as the composting toilets, home visit health program, and new well are functioning amazing!

As I sat on the school steps waiting for the fourth graders to finish their French lesson so we could do our art project, I was able to observe this amazing ecosystem at work. The preschoolers were gently and individually tutored to write the letter “a” by their teacher. A few third graders ran out of their classroom to use the bathroom, an adventure not without its fair share of giggles and grins. Three fifth graders helped the school cook carry a giant pot of rice and beans over to the school to start serving their hot meal. The eighth graders diligently studied geometry, preparing for the national exam. It was amazing to be able to sit back and see how well the community was functioning, as well as the very clear impact it had.

The most amazing thing I was able to witness was one of the first use of the new well! For those of you that have been part of the Road Crew for a while know what a long and difficult road it was to get to this point since Nordette is a very rocky, mountainous environment. It was completed just last week so I visited the first school day it was open for students and the community. The kitchen staff used it to cook rice, children filled their cups, and community members showed up from all directions with big buckets to fill with the new, clean water. The atmosphere was excited and joyful.

I felt so privileged to be able to bear witness to all these events, from the normal routine of classes to the noteworthy well opening event. From this experience, I had a few takeaways. The first was this brightly colored school nestled deep in the mountains of central Haiti was providing hope and a sense of normalcy to Nordette in a time their country is in a state of widespread chaos, insecurity, and suffering. Moreover, it was uplifting to realize how self-sufficient the school community had become. They have an amazing principal, kind teachers, and dedicated staff that ensure that every school day is filled with education and nourishment in a clean, dignified environment. The Road to Hope is obviously supporting those efforts, but there is no need for our supervision or expertise to make sure things are running smoothly on a day-to-day basis. Both of these objectives have been end goals for The Road to Hope for a long time, so it was exciting to see them in action.