For our dear neighbors, today was the first day that everyone was able to go to school.
(Culturally, at least half of the students don’t show up until the second week of school because they’re still scraping up the money for uniforms, supplies, bookbags, and lunch money.)
One of these kids is a two and a half year old boy nick-named Kiki that was scared of white people for the first few months of my time in Haiti – but has changed to being next to impossible to get away from. He spent a portion of yesterday going one by one through each item bought for school – from socks to a lunch bag to an umbrella hat – and showing me (spending a good amount of time on each item to talk about it).
Anyways, I got to be in a cool place today as I set up breakfast for a team staying with us and then walked over to “see everyone off” as they went to school. Kiki was getting a bath and yelled “I’M READY FOR SCHOOL!” (No you aren’t Kiki, you need clothes first) and his excitement was bubbling over as Janine, his mother, went through the extensive process of getting him ready. Culturally, you go all out for school. There’s the uniform that is perfectly pressed, a brand new haircut, threats of what will happen if any dirt touches your clothes before school, and even cologne for a boy on his way to his first day of Kindergarten. This extensive process included Gina, Janine’s sister who lives five minutes away, coming over with HER daughter Bethsaida who is two years ahead of Kiki in school. As they prepared to start walking, Mr. I-can’t-wait-for-my-first-day kept coming close to tears thinking he’d get left behind.
People all over sponsor children to go to school, and I’ve done it in the past with Worldvision – but this year is different. Without planning it, I semi-sponsored Kiki (refusing to pay more than a portion to make sure that there was effort from his mother – reflecting ownership and making sure she also had dignity and a part in sending him to school). On behalf of all of your sponsored kids out there…..can I just say that they are THRILLED because of the opportunity you have given them? I wish I could bottle up the morning for everyone to get to experience – not just Kiki but the whole family and their process, the importance of education and the excitement of starting the year. Richard and Regina (Janine’s younger brother and sister – teenagers) going off on a moto while Gina took Bethsaida’s hand, closely followed by Janine and Kiki in his uniform that matched his cousin as they’re going to the same school. Know that what you’re doing, in real life, makes a difference. I know we can’t all be there to watch our kids dance on a chair as their shirt is buttoned up and they half-sing about the juice in their lunch – but children all over the world are doing it when they get opportunities created by you.