120 New Refugee Students at St. Therese of Boileau

During the past few weeks, we’ve had only little droplets of communication: very brief telephone calls which were disconnected after a few minutes, compressed emails which seemed to escape and reach their destination accidentally.  During the past few days the droplets have started to become a trickle.  We’re getting a little more detail.Father Kensy reports: “We presently have a total of 120 new refugee students St. Therese School, and they came to us empty-handed. Several of their parents have disappeared.  We need to make benches for them and get books and supplies for them.”

Finding space for the benches will also be a problem.  The school was already crowded, but their tradition is to share whatever they have with those in trouble.  He reports, they cannot just turn away from people seeking help.  They share whatever they have, not just their excess.

He also reports that the costs of food for the school lunch program have increased even more so they are challenged to spread less among more hungry mouths.

Education provides hope for the future

When visiting Boileau in 2001, the Pilgrims saw a school which consisted of a tin roof supported by several poles.The students huddled under the tin roof trying to escape the sun’s heat and the rain.The priest asked for help.

St. Philip responded.The new, concrete block building, sized for 250 students (2001 expectation), was completed in 2003.The school now has 8 classrooms plus a small office and three multipurpose rooms, one of which is used for the lunchroom and embryonic library (total of 12 rooms).  Since 2001, the number of students has doubled to 500.


The old school, where the tin roof was supported by wood poles.



Students at the old school



Classroom at old school


But, once again, we learned that just having the building didn’t do the job.The doctor at the clinic told us that most of the children were so malnourished that they couldn’t learn.  For many of the students, this is the only real meal of the day.They have asked us to help with lunches 5 days per week.We are hoping that we have enough money in 2008 to provide lunch all 5 school days.Since 2001, the number of students has doubled to 500.


Classroom in new school



Outside of new school



Students outside of new school


There are 13 qualified teachers. They now have three pre-school groups, each led by two nannies.The school has classes from Kindergarten through 6th grade. During the past few years, all of the students graduating from the 6th grade passed the national tests.Providing some nutrition, along with the building, is making a difference!
The textbooks the children use are consumable which means the students write in them and they can only be used for one year.  Very often parents can’t afford the nominal fee for their children’s books.  When parents  can’t pay for the children’s uniforms and books their children are denied   the opportunity for an education.