The back-to-school week has always been known as a little crazy, but I think this year's 5-day stretch takes the cake. Amongst the gear-switching of routine and extra-curricular action, I found myself sitting outside the principal's office multiple times... And contrary to the norm, I actually wanted to be there.
To recap on some previous blogs, I have been working alongside my friend Robenson to try and enrol the mountain family kids into the school at Mission of Hope. Before I left Haiti for the summer, I met with the principal (Met Soufrann) a few times and we got the ball rolling on their files for the upcoming school year. This week, I was back at his doorstep ready to finalize everything for the year ahead. Fortunately, the national schools don't start classes until October this year, which has given me a bit of an extra cushion to lay out all the groundwork before the offices become grand central station.
So down to the principal's office I went on Monday afternoon, where I first met up with Robenson to develop our 'game plan'. This pretty much consisted of me telling Robenson what I hoped we could come away from the meeting with, and him refining those ideas into a feasible course of action. From there, Met Soufrann invited us in, and we began assessing each of the mountain children based on their age and the grade level they would be placed in.
Unfortunately, it wasn't long before we were made aware of another hurdle. The documented information that we had discussed about the children before I left last June had been lost in the heap of file folders on his desk, so we couldn't move forward until we had new copies of their birth certificates to verify ages. In addition, the kids also needed photos for their files.
So back to the drawing board... We scheduled another meeting for Tuesday, and I left feeling slightly defeated at our lack of progress. Robenson was still in good spirits though, and he assured me that if we focussed on getting the missing pieces in the coming week, there was still lots of time to sort things out before October's school start.
By evening, I was feeling better because I had gotten another printout of the birth certificates (thank you Mazurs for your copy services!), and Robenson informed me by phone that he had been in touch with a photographer from SourceMatelas who would get pictures of all the kids the following day.
Tuesday afternoon I bounded down the hill once again, straight Met Soufrann's office with birth certificates in hand. Another hiccup. Due to some all-too-familiar cell phone service issues, Robenson was MIA and I couldn't get a hold of him. So I left the birth certificates with Met Soufrann and we postponed our next meeting for later in the week.
Thursday rolled around and down again to the principal's office I went. The secretaries and janitorial staff were getting pretty used to seeing me at this point! Robenson was waiting for me on an orange plastic chair in the hallway, and we caught up on our latest advancements. He informed me that the photos had been taken and would be printed on Monday. Things were already looking up!
We got up from our chairs to go in to see Met Soufrann, and he quickly came around the corner of his office door informing us he was off to a meeting. We all stood there for a moment not sure what to say, and then he quickly switched directions and rushed us and his secretary into his office, telling her write fast to get the paperwork done before he had to leave. Bless his heart for taking time for us! Soon another school administrator (Jocelyn) joined us and began confirming placements of each of the children. The sad news I have to tell you is that the 3 oldest children: Francia, Wala and Shaylyn are too old to be enrolled in the school, so Robenson and I now need to investigate other village schools that may accept them. The good news however, is that the 5 other kids: Peterson, Dida, Senson, Elumain and Jean Berthel will all be attending classes at the School of Hope this coming school year!
After Met Soufrann confirmed logistics, he went on his way to the next appointment, and we stayed with the other administrator to complete the paper work. Sitting there with Robenson and witnessing Jocelyn finalize the enrolment was such a rewarding moment for us, and I can't even begin to say how grateful I am to the Lord for His provision in this. Only He could have aligned all the details so perfectly.
I also can't go on another sentence without recognizing all of the Haitian staff at the school for their faithfulness and hard work in making this happen. I would have easily understood if they would have discluded these children - with no past identification or association with the school - from enrolling. However, it truly reflects the heart of their ministry and their passion to see a future generation of literacy and life-change.
Thank you all for your continued prayers and support in these days of waiting and searching out possibilities for these students, down until the last pieces are in place. If you would be interesting in sponsoring one of these five beautiful children, or any other children attending school this year, please contact me or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let the learning begin!