The beginning of the new year was a time for preparation and planning for the Haiti Outreach group. We received encouraging news from St. Michel’s secondary school in Boucan Carre, where the school’s ninth graders scored well on their annual exams. Preliminary results indicate that 92% of ninth graders passed their End of Grade exams. In addition, about two-thirds of “Philo” students, or upper class students hoping to attend college, passed their exams.
The good scores are an indicator that efforts to expand education opportunities in Boucan Carre are producing positive results. With support from our Haiti Outreach group, the high school opened in 2005 with a few dozen students. The current facility was dedicated in 2012 and today houses about 270 students in grades seven through twelve. Our organization provides funds for faculty salaries, but --unlike the primary school-- does not provide meals for the students.
When we began our work in Haiti, estimates were that 80% of those who lived in the region could not read and write. With each year that number falls, due in large part to the presence of two schools that together have nearly 1,200 students and 60 faculty.
Our ability to sustain this success depends upon the efforts of Sacred Heart and our partner parish St. Kateri in Tabb, Virginia, to raise funds needed for teacher salaries and for a meal each day at the primary school. The largest portion of these funds comes from an annual sponsorship drive at both parishes. This year at Sacred Heart the sponsorship drive will be held on the weekends of March 10-11 and 17-18, when parishioners will have the chance to look at photographs and select primary or secondary students they wish to sponsor for the coming school year. We will have more information on the School Sponsorship in the March update.
Meanwhile, another medical mission led by Dr. Dean Mire and Dr. Drew Dirmeyer left for Haiti on February 11. The group will spend one day seeing patients at Feyo Bien, a small village that is one of the “chapels” associated with St. Michel’s parish in Boucan Carre. The rest of the mission will be in the remote village of Bouly, where we operate a clinic for some 30,000 people in the mountainous region.
This upcoming March, during spring break for area schools, we will take our annual student trip to Haiti. This year’s trip will be the largest group thus far, and will take advantage of the new rectory that has expanded capacity for lodging. The trip is always a life-changing experience for all the high school students who take part.
If you want to learn more about our efforts in Haiti, you can visit our website at http://www.haitioutreachprogram.com. Our next meeting is Thursday, March 1 at 6:30 in the library of Sacred Heart School.