The first thing anybody visiting CRS Haiti receives is a security briefing. The security personnel conducting the briefing said “Welcome to paradise” and I immediately said, yes, the paradise of resilient hope, hope for a better future, a better future through education. But how could I say that when I was only a couple of hours old in Haiti? This became clear to me during my ride from the Haiti airport to the CRS office. As I looked out of the car, in the hustle and bustle of life, I saw so many children every minute and at all corners and roads weaving their way to and from school.
I asked one Haitian teacher what might account for the profound desire for education even during these difficult times. Without a blink in her eye the teacher said, “Our buildings can be flattened and dilapidated but once there is a place where we can access quality education, we will die for it. It is the one sure way of making us less vulnerable to unfortunate situations like this.”
I could never agree more with her. Yet, statistics show that there are still many more children, especially in Port-au-Prince, stuck in camps and who cannot go to school because school buildings were turned into rubble by the earthquake.
Hence it was heartwarming and a joyful experience at my first project visit in Haiti to witness the dedication of a $300,000 CRS school project to the community of Torbeck in the diocese of Kayes. When completed, the school will provide a safe learning environment for 700 children in the community. The presence of the bishop, his priests and some high level government officials at the ceremony clearly demonstrated the importance of the project to the community.
Most Reverend Guire Poulard, bishop of the Diocese of Kayes, in his address said, “Basic education is a basic human right of the child. The church is entrusted with the mission of Christ to educate the children of God spiritually and intellectually. We are blessed to have friends and good partners like CRS to help the church in this noble cause.”
– Thomas Awiapo
As a child in Ghana, Thomas Awiapo was a beneficiary of CRS school feeding programs. Now, as an adult, he works for CRS Ghana and travels to the U.S. annually to tell his inspiring story to American Catholics at schools, parishes and communities. Thomas will be a featured guest blogger and will be reporting from Ghana about the issues he witnesses firsthand.
Watch the video: Empowered for Life: The Thomas Awiapo Story.
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