"Little by little the bird builds its nest"
This Haitian proverb seems relevant to the project I was able to join in September 2014. With the organization Hearts and Hands for Haiti - we set up a school library in Tarasse near Gonaives, Haiti. Now 400 children have a library full of books to increase their learning and fuel their imaginations.
It's a little library, but it is a start.
|Brenda and I giving the teachers a library orientation|
|Tarasse School library|
|View from the library|
Our team set up a work room in one of the new classrooms downstairs. We cataloged approximately 650 books--many we had brought with us and some books were from Cherismond's office.
|The library team: Sarah, Janet, Paul, Mindy, Mieke, Anne and Brenda|
We worked hard in 32-35 degree heat and high humidity. We had battery operated fans to help move the air around--all I can say is--it was really hot and muggy but everyone was cheerful.
|Anne & Paul adding labels|
|Mindy on the computer|
|Janet working on the Encyclopedies Mega|
|Jonas, librarian at Poteau helping me catalogue|
|Brenda (in orange shirt) our fearless leader|
Haiti's main language is Creole. French, the official language is introduced in early grades in school and taught exclusively in the higher grades.Schools are competitive, school fees are charged and children must wear uniforms
Although laws are changing, many children in Haiti do not attend school because they cannot afford fees or uniforms
|Delicious rice and beans for lunch|
Hearts and Hands for Haiti supports 7 schools in or near Gonaives--helping to cover school fees and providing food for lunches. Schools are highly competitive, wearing a school uniform from a particular school is a status symbol.
Schools can have 30 to 50 children in a classroom with wooden desks and just a blackboard for class instruction.
"Why should we let the children read fiction stories?"
As we gave a tour of the library to the school staff someone asked this question, and it is a good question to ask. We brought out some examples of books that although they are "imagine" they are so relevant to encourage a reading lifestyle and can be useful in the classroom.
It is humbling and satisfying to know that this project met a direct need at a school that had no library, no books for classroom instruction or for pleasure reading.
||This is how we commuted to Tarasse, 40 min drive from Poteau|
|It was so fun to read Brown bear, Brown Bear in French "Ours brun, ours brun, dis moi ce que tu vois?"|