The Day I Fell in Love with Port-au-Prince
I had heard all of the stories – and even told some of them myself – over the years about Emmanuel Christian School in Delmas 24, but they didn’t become real until I spent three days there in September doing child profiles for our new child sponsorship program. On previous trips, I had only had the chance to drop by on quick visits. But during these three days, I fell in love! At first, it was all business because we had a deadline and needed to get the profiles done. But, then came the smiles, laughs, hugs, and fun! The children were infectious! So much joy and hope in these kids!
With over 400 students from preschool to high school, Delmas 24 is our only secondary school. It’s our main school in Port-au-Prince, and it provides a real foundation for success! From college graduates, businessman, teachers, medical professionals, and others, this school has changed the landscape of so many lives since 1989.
One of those impacted is Lucson Pierre who was a student at ECS of Delmas 24 and now teaches high school economics at the school he attended as a youth. Our principals, Luc and Gony (L-R, pictured below with me), can be intimidating-looking figures when you step on to the property at Delmas 24. With a combined 42 years of service to the children at ECS, their love and devotion is easily detected once you get passed their suits and ties. Gony, our elementary principal, can discipline, encourage, and love all within the same few minutes. He has a big, fun personality that the kids love! Luc is our high school principal and has served so faithfully for 26 years! He has a humble spirit, but is a disciplinarian when needed. He truly loves this school!
Though many who love HCO and our students are only familiar with our village schools, the children – and their smiles, laughs, and hope – of this Port-au-Prince school easily draw your heart into theirs. But what really changed my heart was what happened as I scanned the profiles for correctly spelled names while our translators worked with the children. One of the questions we ask is “What do your parents / caretakers do for a living?” The more profiles I reviewed, the more I kept seeing the answer “Jobless.” Then, I would see three brothers and two sisters who live with mom, and she is “Jobless.” It’s not a common word in the States. But it’s the one they use. That word never had such meaning to me. “Jobless.” I kept scanning. “Jobless.”
In a country where more than 2/3 of the population are “Jobless,” my heart broke! I know that ECS of Delmas 24 is THE chance for these children to have a hope and future that their parents don’t have!
This was the day my heart truly fell in love with Port-au-Prince and our students!
Would you pray with me for these precious students, for their parents and caretakers who need work, and for those who will partner with us to sponsor the children?
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
(1 Corinthians 13:13, NIV)
by Cameron Mayhill