Many of us can’t believe that the end of the trip is just a day away. It’s been an eye opening experience to be able to get to know this community and spend time with them in such different scenarios. Luckily, because we are twinned with the normale school, these goodbyes are only temporary and we’ll continue our ministry work from back home.
Our last full day in Papaye was packed full of being witnesses to a normal day here.
After eating breakfast, we were honored to join the students at their flag raising ceremony where they all line up and raise the Haitian flag. Some students have speeches and others performed the ceremony and then they concluded with their anthem – similar to flag raisings on a military base.
During the ceremony, we were invited center stage to award this year’s recipients of the scholarships that OLN gives out: two for a rising first year and two for a rising second year. After getting their names announced, the recipients came up and we all congratulated them individually, it was nice! A student’s representative then gave a speech afterwards to thank us for our continued partnership and generousity.
We then walked down the road to the local primary school (Tito school – the spelling might be off). Since it was recess, the place was jam packed with joyous children running around and immediately lining up at the entrance of the school curious at the sight of unfamiliar faces – us! As we walked-in, kids waved, smiled and laughed around us. I extended my hand to one of them to shake his little hand and then all of them crowded me to touch my hands and arms – it was adorable. Once we were by the classrooms, we met some of the student teachers from our twin! It felt so neat seeing them and recognizing their uniform and simply knowing they come from our twin – we have that bond, plus I recognised a couple of them. We were invited to address one of the 2nd grade classes and the kids responded with very articulate and loud answers, followed by one of them saying “welcome dear guests” in French – very cool.
Upon returning, we stopped by Sister Marie’s sewing school and took a breather. Sister was excited to show off her new stove (provided to her by gracious donations from OLN) and many of the items made there. All of us were excited to hear that she’ll be sending some over soon so that we can sell them at our next fundraiser. Sister Marie also thanked us for all the sewing equipment that we’ve donated to the school and that it’s made a huge difference in the quality of instruction for many of the young women she trains at the school.
Next stop was Sister Anise’s clinic that also services the community. Sister showed us every room and corner of the building! We were all impressed at how many services they provide for such little costs but with excellent care.
After all the tours, we went back to the school library to demo the Internet in a box for interested teachers. We walked them through the features step-by-step and all of them were excited at the new opportunities made possible by having access to an encyclopedia and 1000s of books in 4 languages.
The group then decided to go to get some peanut butter and snacks next door at the brother’s campus – I decided to take a nap since I needed to recharge.
After my nap, some of us made our way to the computer lab to give any interested students the opportunity to learn how to use PowerPoint through hands-on instruction. We ended up having a full house! Cyndy taught a comprehensive lesson and many of them came away from that class with an obvious itch to learn more.
Finally, we ate dinner with all the sisters that live here at the normale school. It was an awesome experience sharing a meal with these holy women who embody strength, wisdom, charity, and grace in all that they do for the community. As was mentioned to us, in many ways, the sisters are the backbone of Haitian society and are at the front lines with education, medicine, and faith formation. As always, the meal was delicious and extremely satisfying – a fitting end to our last full day in Papaye.
We’ll be traveling tomorrow and I will continue updating the blog. Thanks again for reading intently and for the prayers you send us. We’re inspires and driven by every bit of it!