Tuesday, January 02, 2007

E-mail from Haiti

From Page B1 of this week's Pittsburgh Catholic:

Rebecca Newlin, religion teacher at Oakland Catholic High School, is spending a year’s sabbatical working among the people of Haiti. Kenneth Ogorek, diocesan director of the Office of Catechesis, recently received the following e-mail from Newlin.

Hi Ken:

I hope all is well in Pittsburgh and that the peace of Christ rests in all hearts!

After spending three months in Fondwa, Haiti, I feel very much at home. I have been teaching English to 65 seventh-graders, 34 eighth-graders, 47 ninth-graders and 17 tenth-graders.

The classrooms are small and dark. The desks, made for three, sit about six or seven each. The expectations are low and there is little accountability. It is not like the United States. I have five seventh-graders who are in their early 20s.

Many students drop out of school to let a younger sibling go, since the price of education is very high. At some point, they jump back into the system. Or they have never started school, show up and are placed pretty much randomly, or it appears that way.

In the ninth grade the students are given a national exam and many quit after that either because of not passing, or more likely because there is a lack of money. I always thought myself to be a woman of hope, but when I look into these children’s eyes filled with enthusiasm and hope I notice that my hope is lacking. There are no jobs and a lack of economy and social services. Here is where the cross is relived and only God and an honest group of people can change Haiti. We pray earnestly every day for a resurrection.

I love it here even though it is hard sometimes. There is often no running water and we haven’t had electricity for three months, but we do have an electric current for about one and one-half hour a day.

We currently have Internet access, but we didn’t for the first two months. Travel is difficult. Yesterday was a national local voting day. Another volunteer and I wanted to go to the polls to experience voting in Haiti, so we went with the sisters. We started out at 10:30 a.m. and returned at 2 p.m. I think we walked about four miles each way, up and down the mountains. Luckily it was not a very bad road. Well, I just wanted you to know that all is well and what I have been up to. The current will be turned off in a minute. I was just warned, so until next time.

Peace and love,

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