Fr. Gracia safely made it back home to Haiti this past weekend. Our time together bore much fruit. He has plans to find two volunteers from each school to facilitate purchasing local grown food for the school lunch program. Currently the children are served beans and imported rice. Purchasing locally grown food will not only seed the money in the local economy, it will also add variety to the children’s meals and add needed nutrients to their diet.
We also discussed plans to form book clubs with the teachers. Recently I reread the history of Booker T. Washington and have been thinking about how to introduce the ideas of such men as Washington to the community in Haiti. Books written on the lives and the works of prominent black men and women of the reconstruction era after our own civil war address very similar problems that Haitian peasants face today.
To integrate the ideas and teachings of these inspirational people, we are planning on introducing book clubs to the teachers. This will not only introduce powerful new ideas, but also improve reading and comprehension skills. It will be in fact a collaboratively self taught class.
To begin with, the teachers themselves will form a club amongst themselves. Then after they complete their first book, they will receive a certificate and then organize book clubs with their most advanced students.
During his four week visit Fr. Gracia was also treated by a chiropractor for an older lower back trauma that has been a source of chronic pain. Dr. Chris Townsend of “Back in Motion Chiropractic” in Lebanon, worked within this very tight time schedule to make adjustments that provided Fr. Gracia with the first pain relief he has had in recent memory. Fr, Gracia says, “Thank you very much Dr. Chris. Mèsi Anpil”.
Denise and I will be returning to Haiti in two weeks. Along with working with Fr. Gracia on the school projects, we have plans to put a roof on the pavilion, and build a small house for the guardian at The Fr. Jim Bretl Agriculture Center.
Of course these are just our plans, and we know that working in Haiti requires flexibility and three more things:
Patience, patience and more patience.
God bless you all for your love and support of the people of Riviere Mancelle.