Arrival in Leogane, Part 2
In 2016, Bethel School had 98 students ranging in age and educational needs. Some had no prior education and others dropped out at the age of 8 to work on their famiy's farm. Many could not afford an education, and others did not see the value in it. While positive change can and does happen throughout Haiti, it can be difficult at times to see. In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, political upheaval, UN intervention, as well as Hurricane Matthew (which happened 2 weeks prior to my capturing these images) progress slowed to a painful rate and many remote areas did not see it all. It was amidst this context that the idea for Bethel School was born.
Chantal Dumera has a background in school administration and years of experience in education and business. She was approached by the pastor of Bethel Church whom explained the need for education in the surrounding area. Many families could not afford to send their children to school, and many children went without food for a few days at a time. Both women found this unacceptable and began Bethel School on a small plot of land behind the church building. Through tireless effort, Chantal began working several jobs and networking with teachers and members of the community to ensure that education found its way to this remote village in Leogane.
On this trip to Haiti, Bethel School was constructed primarily with wood and corrugated metal sheets. However, Hurricane Matthew ripped off the metal sheets from the roof and several of the side panels as well. (On later trips, we learned that different materials were being used that left less collateral damage in the event of severe weather.) Fortunately no one was harmed in the hurricane, though many reported significant property damage.
Among The Reeds heard about Chantal's story through a mutual contact and began a partnership to ensure the ongoing investment in the children in Leogane as well as the surrounding communities. The medical clinic and disaster relief efforts were and will continue to be an important part of ATR activities. However focus would now shift to community development to address an urgent and long-lasting need.