We share the witness of Br. Frantzley Exama, from Haiti, who describes how the School Our Lady of Fatima, in Dame-Marie, has succeeded in being creative and in finding the strength to overcome the tragedy provoked by the hurricane Matthew and how it has headed towards a new beginning.
The Marist world has shown itself very generous and in great solidarity towards us after the passage of the hurricane Matthew. Thank you, whole heartedly, to all those who support the Marist communities and works in Haiti. We feel this fraternal communion which makes of us brothers and friends.
Here, in Dame-Marie, three months after the hurricane Matthew, the basic services are resuming little by little. Our two Schools Nativity and Fatima which are still under re-construction have re-opened their door causing the greatest joy to the pupils and their parents. Those were days of hard work in order to make the sun of hope shine again. During all this time there have been also some very beautiful local initiatives of cooperation which we have lived. For example, with the support of the Marist community of Dame-Marie, the professors of Fatima decided to create a school garden. We have cleaned, moved the earth with the spade, and prepared the earth to sow the seeds. Then, we have created a context of learning for our pupils outside the walls of the classroom and through example and practice. We share our experiences and our knowledge in a community “kombit” (corvee – a working party) in an atmosphere of simplicity and joy. We take care of our pupils, of our garden, of our dear Haiti. Our educators feel proud to share with you their own experience.
After the cyclone Matthew passed by which devastated four geographic departments of the country particularly ours, the department of the Grand’Anse, unthinkable that we would let our feet drag, but we decided to set up certain activities and the priority was given to the creation of a school garden.
Why a school garden?
Taking into account the losses that have been registered on the agricultural level and considering the problems of economic order, the school could not function. Then conscious of the situation, the teaching team of the Congregation National School Our Lady of Fatima met and took the initiative to begin the garden on October 20, 2016. They prepared and made available a piece of land, 25 m. long and 5 m. wide; this garden bears the name of « garden of hope ». There we plant products such as: tomatoes, cabbage, carrots, chili, peppers, and eggplant. Our greatest concern and care was not to be lazy and let go, for it is necessary to begin to work, to plant, to reconstruct. In doing this, we give our pupils the example of courage, of knowing how to do and of knowing how to be. We teach them to adopt an attitude of knowing how to face a situation after a catastrophe. It is necessary to continue to live to work in order to be able to take care of our needs.
The harvest that we will get will serve to improve the nourishment for the children in the school cafeteria. The profit which we will get will be destined to cover certain cultural and social recreational expenses for the children. Placing apart the question of nourishment, we then consider some educational notions such as: participation in decision making, the capacity to assume responsibilities, collaboration, and the improvement of the urban environment. In this way, lessons are given: the observation of natural sciences (germination and reproduction), mathematics, the sciences of environment. The Garden of Hope is an experience and a tool of practical learning in which the children can reproduce at home the school garden. In this way they can produce some food for themselves and for others and prosper in their corner of the country.
It is always good to be useful to oneself and to others. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to be a artisan determined to overcome the difficulties that present themselves. We must finish with the attitude of always waiting or expecting that others give us everything; it is necessary to make a personal effort before asking for the help of others. The pupils and the educators certainly drew great profit from this experience.
Your support and your advice will be most useful and we will give hope of a very fruitful harvest. “Let us dig and plant joyfully”… let us produce together!