As the day unfolds at a school in rural northern Haiti, there are people hundreds of miles away in Houston who are inspired to help build that school and who want to keep it going and growing through the work of the nonprofit Hands for Haiti.
"These children will walk two or three hours a day to come to school," said Cindy Tice, a Hands for Haiti board member.
Tice and Jeff Hynes, both of the Houston area, met by chance. Hynes eventually persuaded Tice to go to Haiti with his family and see the village to which he'd been dedicating his time and resources.
"Little, little, tiny kids under the tarp, sitting on some benches that they'd handmade," Hynes said. "We showed up, they stood up, started singing songs."
Years ago, students were gathering under that tarp with volunteer teachers, the desire to learn and little else.
"In Haiti, school isn't free," Hynes said. "Before the school, they didn't have anything to do all day; they had nothing to occupy their minds."
Today, the village school is in a real building with six classes and an enrollment of more than 200 students through grade 5.
"This school brings many benefits for us," teacher Keppia Pierre said, speaking in French Creole. "There is a lot of unemployment in the area. We don't find work. The assistance of this school has come and we find work to feed our family."
The school is both a mission...
"It's great that we can teach them to read and write, but we want to teach them to be self-sufficient," Hynes said.
And a message...
"The joy that those children have for what little we provide to them is, I think, the most amazing aspect," Tice said.
To learn more about Hands for Haiti and how you can help, visit their website at www.handsforhaiti.com.
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