St. Bridget School System - Haiti
After the first trip to Haiti, it was clear to the mission team from St. Bridget Catholic Church in Schriever, Louisiana that water was the major need. Hot, dry living conditions with children walking up and down the roads to scattered and distant fountains or springs was the daily cycle of life in the villages of Numero Deux and Ravine Sable. We came to understand that this was the cycle of life for most of Haiti. From repairing and replacing PVC and galvanized pipe water lines to drilling water wells and constructing new systems, Haiti Mission, Inc., (HMI) over the past decade has made great strides and marked improvement in the capabilities of the population in the region to access potable water.
Soon after the HMI adventure in Haiti began, we were made aware of other pressing needs. Next to the lack of sufficient and readily available potable water, the fact that there were no primary schools for the children was another reality that was startling.
Fr. Joe, the pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption parish at the time, asked if we could somehow raise some money to begin a school. He said that he had nine volunteers that would teach for free for one year if we could begin paying them the next. What a proposition and what a commitment on the part of those parent volunteers! The beginning salary was $35 a month – can you believe it!? The nine members of the first mission team all agreed to commit to $35 per month to begin the school – so we did!
The next problem we faced was shoes for the children. Many of them couldn’t go or wouldn’t go to school because they had no shoes. We came up with a plan. We had the teachers trace the footprints of the students on a piece of paper, write the students name, age, gender, class and the teacher’s name on the footprint and send it to us. The prints were copied onto different colored paper to easily identify each class, then cut out and placed on a giving tree at St. Bridget church as well as others with an invitation for people to take the prints to shoe stores and buy a pair to match the footprints. Hence, the shoe share plan was a great success! We began the odyssey of bringing new shoes along with snacks and devotional items stuffed into each shoe to each child in the initial St. Bridget School in Numero Deux which had about 200 students.