The 2019-2020 school year has been extremely challenging in Haiti. Last fall, schools were shut down for many weeks of the semester due to violent political unrest that characterized the situation in the nation. This spring—like education systems everywhere around the world— Haiti schools have largely had to be kept closed since the Coronavirus broke out in Mid-March. There was an interim period starting before the Christmas holiday break and continuing after New Year's when schools were open, and they were also extending daily hours, meeting on Saturdays, and planning to go to school this summer to make up the lost time. Haitian school officials will I'm sure be working to continue to figure out how to help children and young people recover their missed education once the threat of the pandemic has passed. When I was in Haiti in January and February, I participated in the visitation to schools to pay students' tuition. The photo shows a number of our Soaring-sponsored young people at school, along with Soaring Asst. Dir. Hanania Orelus and her Education Programs Asst. Madeline Etienne.
I'm also proud of Soaring's Saturday Night Leadership Group whose members had stepped up to keep things going when I'm not in Haiti by leading the weekly class for advanced English and leadership lessons in a rotational format. Thanks to the Central Methodist Church Team from Traverse City, Michigan for assisting with getting this effort started. With the advent of Covid-19, gatherings like the Saturday Night Group have now had to suspend meetings because of the government restrictions put in place to protect the population, but we are sharing lessons electronically with attendees.
We welcome Madeline to our Soaring Unlimited staff! She will fill the new position of After-School Program & Baby Box Coordinator, conducting enrichment activities with kids in the Pistere community surrounding our Clinic, assisting with administering student scholarships, and expanding distribution of our portable baby beds. Madeline has previously served as one of our Creole/English translators for mission teams, and has teaching and administrative background experience.