Thursday December 19, 2013
November 23, South Burlington resident and Director of Volunteers For Peace (VFP) Meg Brook met eight volunteers from the USA, Canada and Australia for a Thanksgiving week service trip in a primary school in Desab, Haiti. Located an hour north of Port au Prince, Desab is a very rural setting in the mountains at the end of a long dirt road. The school has 260 students, nine teachers, a principal and a director. They only have eight small classrooms so the oldest students meet in a nearby church. Students range from 3 to 27 years old!
The week was spent exploring Haitian culture and life while serving in the school. Each morning, pairs of volunteers would join a class. Some chose to go to the preschool classes to support the teachers, sing with the kids and provide them with touch and attention. Others chose to teach varying levels of English. A retired French teacher taught a week-long lesson on Senegal, exposing the children and teachers to alternative educational methods. Others brought art supplies and were able to integrate those into the classroom routine. At 10 a.m. each day the Principal, Arthur, rang a bell and the students, dressed in their bright yellow uniforms, exploded from the school to play with us for half an hour.
In addition to working in the classrooms the volunteers painted the walls of the three primary classes and added some color with the alphabet, numbers and small murals. It was really wonderful to see the kids arrive each morning and carefully check what the group had changed in their room while they were gone. Classrooms in Haiti are so different than here. They are very small, and there is nothing on the cement walls. A blackboard in the front of the room is for the teacher, and children either copy information into a small book or repeat what is written.
December 26, Brook will return to Haiti for her sixth trip, this time with 20 volunteers, including a group of 10 students from Norwich University. She will lead volunteers as they discover the history of Haiti, experience Haitian Independence Day on January 1 and participate in the 5th annual Kite Festival. This large group will paint a hospital, build a school kitchen, install 12 Biosand Water filters in local schools, and organize a party for children and the elderly. Brook will talk about these trips Jan. 29 as part of the Armchair Traveler Series at the South Burlington Library. For more information on VFP’s work in Haiti visit www.vfp.org.
Haiti Donations Due December 26 Christmas for 150 Elderly Women: We are looking for gifts for the women. Ideas are a scarf, bag, hat, perfume, soap, glasses, shoes. Gently used items are welcome.
Computers: We are supporting a computer lab at a technical school and are looking for laptop computers. Must have a powercord.
Cell Phones: Help us stay in touch with our project leaders and interpreters by donating your old cell phone. Must have space to insert a SIM card.
Paint: We need almost 150 gallons of paint for the hospital. If you are able to make a financial contribution to this project it will be greatly appreciated!
Please contact Meg Brook at 802-343-2604 if you have an item to donate. Or drop off your donated items to 911 Dorset Street, #1 (Indian Creek) by the afternoon of December 26. All donations are tax-deductible.