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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Black Shoes

Today we had our normal Tuesday morning staff meeting, where we learned from our new principal that all the children attending the MdL school (our kids in grades K-6, many of the children of our staff, and some children in our neighborhood) need black shoes. Here in Haiti black shoes that are typically worn to school cost around 800 Haitian dollars, which equals about $100 US. Um, hello? Am I not currently living in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere? A typical Haitian salary is less than $1 US per day. How does a Haitian pay for shoes for their child to go to school? Not only are special shoes required for all Haitian schools, they need to pay for tuition, books, school supplies, uniforms (pants or skirts and shirts), sometimes lunch (other times they are given a daily lunch that is included in their tuition), ribbons for the girls' hair, and I'm sure other items that I have forgotten to include. This explains why so many children don't go to school and adults are unable to read. Yet, how do so many children go to school with the cost so high? Sponsors, for one. Each child in our orphanage has sponsors from the states or Canada who donate a monthly amount to Child Hope, which pays for school-related costs, food, clothes, and medical care, among other things, for our children. Many of the children in our neighborhood who will be going to our school or others have sponsors as well who are giving just for school. In addition, hundreds of other organizations, such as Compassion International, pair up donors with children to send them to school. A huge Thank You to those who sponsor our children, those in our neighborhood, and through other organizations. You are making the difference between a child spending their days on the streets or sitting in a classroom, surrounded by books and learning and receiving a hot meal.

Someone asked what would happen if the kids in our school didn't wear black shoes. MdL is hoping to get this school accredited this year so someone who does the accrediting can pop by the school without warning multiple times a week to check on it. If they see that our kids don't match or look sloppy, it may take longer to get accredited.

This discussion about shoes and their prices started to seem ridiculous and I'm afraid I started to judge the Haitian culture as well. Why the emphasis on appearance when jobs are minimal and people aren't eating here? But aren't we (I), as Americans, just the same way? There are millions of homeless people in America as well. We love our fashion and we all want to look cute and shiny on our first day of school and every other day as well. We'll go into huge debt to buy clothes, cars, jewelry, and electronics. We are the same everywhere. We want to look good!

Because we want our kids to go to school (and most days they want to also), if you know of a place that will donate black dress or tennis shoes, please contact me. In the meantime, our kids will start at the MdL school this coming Monday, wearing whatever kind of shoe they have, hopefully being happy and thankful God has given them the opportunity to put on their backpack and learn French. May I remember to also be thankful for my clothing and my education that the Lord has been gracious to provide.


karen gerstenberger said...

Brooke, do they have to be new shoes, or can they be used?
I'm thankful for your work and your writings - we would never know what it's really like, or how to help, unless someone who is there tells us! God bless you and your beloved Haitian people!