L’ECOLE SAINTE THERESE – Boileau School Update

Education is the cornerstone of Haiti becoming self-sustaining.  The progress in Boileau gives everyone hope! The school is crowded.  Even the storage closet is being used as a classroom.  They have energy—because you are providing a school lunch program. They have books – because of your gifts of talent and time and money. Their education will provide new solutions for tomorrow’s leadership in
Boileau.

When we first saw the school in Boileau — poles with a leaky tin roof and no walls – there were a little over 100 students.  The priest and school principal expected growth over the next several years, so we sized the new building for about 250 students – doubling the size.  The 2010 enrollment is 744 students! More than seven times the number of students eight years ago.  Your help has made this happen.

With the surge of earthquake refugees in the village, there are 150 new earthquake students.  This has added students at all class levels.  But the growth from 100 students to 600 students from Boileau residents is the result of several improvements which are direct consequence of help provided by your generous gifts.  The change from dropping out after third grade to completing ninth grade is because of you.

You have been providing a school lunch four days a week. Rice and beans is the standard cuisine, but with improvements in the gardening as a result of the Agriculture Project, they now get some tomatoes and cabbage for a little variety in nutrition and taste. For many of the students, this is their main meal of the day – or only meal of the day. After we provided the school building, the doctor told us that even though the building was a huge step forward, the kids were malnourished that they could not learn.  With consistent nourishment, they are doing great!!

It was only a few years ago that we noticed that although there were several students in the early grades, by third and fourth grades the numbers dropped dramatically.  By sixth and seventh grade there were only a handful of students.

When we explored the reasons that the kids dropped out, we learned that it was a combination of families not being able to afford the more expensive books of “higher grades” and the parents needed the kids to help at home – typically, to haul water and help take care of sick adults. Even though the villagers wanted their kids to get an education, few could do it.

Drilling more wells dramatically reduced the amount of time needed to walk to the well.  Also, the wells provided an alternative to water from the polluted streams.  Clean water reduced the amount of time that everyone in the family was in bed with various intestinal problems from water-borne bacteria and parasites. Since less time was needed to haul water and families were healthier, the kids could attend school!!

Generous gifts from donors make it possible to help provide books!  This means they can stay in school.  Previously, many kids had to quit school before they really mastered reading and writing…and since their parents had not been to school and had not learned to read or write, the next generation education stopped at third or fourth grade.  Now most are able to continue.  In 2010, there are 50 students in First Grade and 45 in Eighth Grade – almost no dropouts!! Life in Haiti will continue to be difficult, but the next generation will have problem solving tools provided by educations you made possible.

Education is a critical foundation for sustainable progress.

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