One of the first things you might notice when you meet some of the children in Haiti is their fascination with having their picture taken. Whether they are preschoolers or high schoolers they see a phone or a camera and they want you to take their picture and then they want to see the picture. Inevitably after a week-long mission trip you will return with hundreds of photos of these adorable Haitian children smiling reminding you of their simple yet hard lives. For many they have not seen a picture of themselves and this is their chance.
Contrast that with the teen, now known as “selfie boy” after taking his selfie with Justin Timberlake during the Super Bowl halftime show. 13-year-old Ryan McKenna happened to have the “right seat” as Timberlake walked by and was able to turn his phone to selfie mode and get that famous pic of himself with the star. It was special and a once in a lifetime experience.
Both photos will be treasured by the one taking it and those in the photos but the differences between their life experiences, education and opportunities are drastically different.
The children that we get to see at the Harmony Ministries schools feel lucky to learn. Pastor Luc, our mission partner in Haiti describes the students as intellectually starving. Their education is free at the Harmony Ministry school which is not the case at other school in the Port au Prince and it is the only available school in the villages. Their classrooms are simple. Old 2 X 4 beams that create a seat and a table to write on, a chalkboard which divides classes and teachers which are desperate to help their children learn math, reading and writing.
This boy has his own phone to take pictures, he probably has many classes with smart boards, iPads and educational opportunities that we take for granted but the Haitian children couldn’t even imagine.
Even though both childhood experiences have the opportunity for education it is hard to not see the stark contrast of their educational experiences. Selfie boy had the opportunity to go to the Super Bowl. The future of high school, college and many career opportunities are before him.
The Haitian children hope their parents can afford to send them to high school. They don’t have a free and reduced school lunch option. In fact, they often don’t have any lunch to eat. Each child must wear their uniform to school but many don’t have shoes that fit them even though they walk miles to school each morning and night. Teachers do their best to educate the children but their resources span from personal experience and a French lesson book. No internet ideas, no fancy bulletin boards or creative teaching tools. There is not public school with teacher paid salaries. The reason these Haitian students get this free educational opportunity is because of Pastor Luc’s vision and our generous support. It is with our generous gifts that we can help pay the teachers, build schools and purchase books for these kids to learn.