On a typical day when school is in session, you will see countless children wearing uniforms on their way to and from school. The sounds of children laughing and chattering bellow up from the streets. School bells ring and children in their classes sing and recite lessons together. Unfortunately, this year has been sadly quiet since much of the year schools have been closed.
During the fall last year, schools closed down due to civil unrest after being open for less than a month. It was a time known to the people of Haiti as “peyi lok”, which means basically that the country is on lock down. In a conversation with Thrive Ansanm university student Ellie, he said of peyi lok,
“The situation in the country is getting worse because the people want to keep protesting.” He continued, “Children can’t go to school, parents can’t work to help their children, so I think the country is really, really bad. We just keep trusting that people can actually sit down and talk about this so schools can open again.”
Finally, in January of this year, schools reopened. After months of waiting, students were itching to get back to school. Then Covid-19 rocked the world and, as expected, made its way to the shores of Haiti. Once again, schools closed down in March to help manage the spread of the disease. While school closures were in the best interest and safety of the students, it is devastating in a place where distance learning is out of reach for many students and education remains a luxury for only those who have the money to pay for it.
Almost an entire year was lost due to school closures, so you can imagine how excited students were when it was decided that schools would reopen on August 10th. Together the Thrive Ansanm staff decided that once schools opened, we would also reopen the Thrive Ansanm Resource Center with safety measures in place. The resource center is a place that many of the students, especially the university students, have come to rely on. It is wonderful to know that they have a safe place to study, use computers, charge their phones and watch soccer games together.
After all that students have been through over the last year, you might be wondering how they maintain hope. It’s not easy, but one thing about the Haitian people is that they are resilient.
As Elie said during peyi lock, “We have a Haitian proverb that says, ‘Depi gen tet, nou toujou espere mete chapo.’ [This roughly translates to “Since you have a head, you always hope for a hat.”] Hope in Haiti is very scarce. It’s very scarce, but you should still have hope.” He continued, “ You must know why you are fighting, why you go to school, why you go to work. For myself, I can say, yeah I have hope for Haiti.”