A Piece of Chalk is How We Got Started

Interfaith Awareness Series
January 16, 2015
Washington D.C. Experience
January 16, 2015

A Piece of Chalk is How We Got Started

In 1993, a Haitian born young professional visited Sam in his office, and with tears in his eyes said, “My father’s school in Haiti is going to close.” Sam asked, “Why is it to close?” thinking he would hear how people are dying of starvation, and teachers and students are fainting from hunger. But Sam soon learned that the Haitian people are too proud to even let hunger close down a school. Education is their greatest hope to a better life. Their crisis was – “The school had run out of chalk. Teachers could not teach without chalk.” When a school has no pencils, paper, or books – all a teacher has to teach with is the information held in their own heads, a piece of chalk and a chalk board. When visiting a Haitian school it is exhilarating to hear the chanting of words, numbers, equations, etc. back and forth between the teacher and students.

It should be of no surprise that Sam Muyskens is a man of action. When the young Haitian visitor left his office he immediately called Harold Millard, a seasoned traveler with the Kansas West Conference United Methodist Volunteer in Mission program. Within a few weeks Harold and Sam were on their way to Haiti with boxes of chalk. The school was re-opened, and before Harold and Sam left Haiti they had purchased gasoline smuggled into Haiti from the Dominican Republic, for $18.00 a gallon, filled the tank of a borrowed truck, and hired a driver who drove to the Haitian coast and loaded the truck with donated food stranded in the harbor because there were no ‘gasoline filled’ trucks to transport the food. The food was delivered safely to Lambert, Haitian lives were saved, a long-term relationship was developed, and the small school remained open.

 

For twenty-three volunteer doctors, nurses, contractors, laborers, teachers, and religious leaders have traveled to Lambert, Haiti. Together we have worked along side the Haitian people. The school has grown and now serves over 600 students including a satellite school in Borde. The project has also helped create a medical clinic, initiate a micro-lending project for women, plant thousands of trees, and with the help of Rotary International, Wichita Rotary Clubs and the Cap Haitian Rotary Club in Haiti, we have installed a solar powered water system for the school and community, created a solar powered computer lab, and introduced cooking with solar ovens.

Today the school has books, pencils, paper, computers, and “yes” they have chalk!

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