One year ago, a group from Blue Ridge School made its first visit to St. Peter’s School in Berault, Haiti, to form a partnership. This was initiated by Chaplain Anne West and Pere Fred of St. Matthias Church and School in Cherident, Haiti. Haiti is ruggedly beautiful. Its people are resilient. However, the country has suffered many hardships – both politically and from natural disasters. As a result, many people live in dire conditions. Blue Ridge School is playing a small but important role in helping one of thirteen small schools in the mountain region served by Pere Fred. St. Peter’s School has eight teachers, a principal, an assistant principal and 120 students in grades K-6.
This past November, Aaron O’Donnell ’18 and Wai Kwan Ng ’19, accompanied by teachers Mrs. Wendy Evans and Mr. Evan Graber, sacrificed a week of their Thanksgiving break to help in Haiti. Upon their arrival, the group was warmly greeted by Pere Fred and a bit of music.
On day two, the group set out on a two-hour car ride along rough mountain roads, and then undertook a two-hour hike in the blazing sun up a mountain carrying backpacks loaded with school supplies and other much-needed items. Pere Fred joined the group to serve as navigator and translator.
When they finally reached St. Peter’s School, the group was pleased to see that each of the four school buildings had new roofs. During last year’s visit, BRS students learned that the school was in desperate need of new roofs. Therefore, this became the major fundraising project.
Following introductions to the teachers and students, the group toured each building that serves two grades each.
After the school day ended, they met with the teachers to gather information. “They each were so gracious and thanked us profusely for coming to visit again and to maintain our partnership,” says Mrs. Evans. She adds, “These teachers are real heroes. They walk those rock-strewn paths each day to arrive at the school. They make do with minimal supplies. And they cannot count on being paid! They teach for the love of teaching.”
She adds that her take away from this fact-finding trip was that the Blue Ridge School’s partnership is without a doubt appreciated, welcomed and absolutely needed. “It took a while for the teachers to finally tell us what they could use the most. Not surprisingly, they need to be paid each month to take care of their families. Their additional requests, surprisingly enough, were laptops or tablets! They have no electricity, but they do have the ability to use solar power,” says Mrs. Evans.
This year, the School’s Haitian Project’s mission will be to help these educators bring their mountain school into the 21st century. This spring, Blue Ridge will send another trip to Haiti. “Let’s have the boys’ backpacks laden with laptops and tablets! Please consider being a part of the fundraising project,” concludes Mrs. Evans.
For more information on the project and how you may contribute, please contact Chaplain West at email@example.com.