Saturday, September 25, 2010

September Update Additions--Education focus

I just received a neat report from Sister Fidelis that I wanted to share with you:

I mentioned that we've been raising some funds to help support teachers' salaries in Pestel.  The report is below.    We've been able to provide partial funding for these teachers.  Full funding is something around $1000 per teacher per year.  Keep in mind, however, that these folks are often high-school trained.  But very dedicated.  
I find it hard to go back sometimes and see them because they continue to work, despite receiving little pay, because they know what they are doing is important.  I have heard several times from different teachers in different villages:  "I have been teaching for the past 3-4 months without any pay.  I just cannot keep doing this.  I have to care for my family."  
I am not trying to manipulate emotions here; just stating what has been in my head for the past 3 years--that it is sometimes hard to tell them, "Please keep doing what you're doing!"
That being said, here's the report:

Father Parnell's Update on Education in Pestel
August 2010

Saint Maria Goretti School (La Sal--photo attached. They meet in an all-bamboo structure)
34 children;  1 teacher
Grades offered:  1st and 2nd

Saint Rose School of Lima (Ferye):
50 children; 2 teachers
Grades offered:  1st and 2nd

Notre Dame Lameci School (Dezet):
37 children; 1 teacher
Grades offered:  1st and 2nd

Saint Gerard School (Tomas Eli--this is the school that received the school benches):
91 children; 4 teachers
Grades offered:  1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th

School in Ka foo Sitwon (this is the school I mentioned some time ago where the land was donated by a family, and the community came together to build the school!)
97 students; 5 teachers
Classes offered:  1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th

TOTAL Children:   309
TOTAL Teachers:  13
TOTAL Schools:  5

If you break it down to $1000 per teacher x 13 = $13,000. We have probably been able to send something like $4000 in the past year (I don't know the number right off hand).

One way to look at it could be something like this:
$13,000 / 309 children = $42 per child per year.

That's more manageable! :)

I want to be clear: the schools listed above are not the only schools in Pestel! Not by any means! Some very good elementary schools exist down in the town (including one supported by the Sisters of St. Francis in Sylvania, OH, and Odelin Francois' school supported by his network in NYC). The schools above were some of those who were at higher risk of shutting down due to funding, or other similar priority issues.

My "thing" is health care. As I survey the issues across Pestel I am convinced that the way forward is education. No doubt in my mind.
The workers are just about finished with the household survey (an entire month ahead of schedule!). The survey will tell us how many kids attend school. We sort of know the answer (it'll be low), but it'll be important to put hard data behind our observations.  
The education-issue is similarly daunting like with the health issues.  
1. how to provide basic primary education for all children throughout Pestel?
2. how to ensure educational value for the $ invested in the schools? Standards of education, standard curricula, teacher oversight....superintendent? school boards?
3. where will the teachers come from? How to build local capacity to teach?

And I didn't even mention anything about high school. For high school the few kids who attend have to go to the cities.

The other option that exists in Pestel, and that just started up about 2 years ago, is a trade school. Great idea! I'd love to support that effort as well. Masonry and animal husbandry are the two areas they currently teach.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Messiah College

Hi All,

Just letting you know that I had a really terrific evening last night at Messiah College.  I took part in a panel discussion, and I provided some insight into the health conditions in Haiti.  The panel was a good mix of personalities and expertise.  The audience was about 1000 first year students and faculty (and some friends and family!) that had finished discussions of "Mountains Beyond Mountains."

It went quite well. And I'm really grateful for the opportunity to have spoken about the health issues in Haiti and try to encourage the students to trust in God, despite great challenges.

I have two more invites:  one to the Pre-Med group at Messiah College, and another later this year with a local group called Kingdom Builders (thanks to Stephen Sands!).  Oh yes, and we'll be having a 'booth' at our church's mission fair in a couple of weeks.  We'll be featuring Johnny Zook's CharRocket stove!  I'll try to send out a short video about that stove fairly soon.  

I'll keep you posted!