A rooster crows, piercing the silence of the still, cool morning. Call and response across the lanes as others join. Rays of first light creep above the horizon, above the canopy of the coastal plain. Slowly, organically voices start to rise, just a few at first but growing into a low chatter as the morning light spreads. Sprinkles of laughter follow, a crescendo of life awakening. A goat herder rousts his charges from their overnight pen and starts through the lanes to the paths out of town for the day’s grazing. From our perch on the roof of St. Barthélémy school we look out and greet a new day dawning in Terrier Rouge.
Soon the school yard is be bustling with life as children arrive, some on foot in small groups, many delivered by their fathers on bikes, motos. Hundreds of children! Their red polos and gray shorts clean and fresh. Conversation, laughter, and spontaneous soccer play erupting. Order emerges from disorder as the crowd sorts itself into classrooms. Then ranks of students led by their teachers emerge from the classrooms to stand at attention, filling the courtyard and the balconies for morning assembly: a prayer, the 23rd Psalm, raising the flag and singing the national anthem led by the enthusiastic, if not always well-tuned, strains of the marching band. A new day begins at St. Barthélémy.
That was the scene some years ago. Some things have changed: A second building now houses the high school, over a thousand students are enrolled, the neighboring Espérance et Vie (Hope and Life) Clinic provides medical care to the students and community, and Jatrofa Projenou supports vocational training, local enterprise and restoration of agricultural lands. The electrical grid has reached Terrier Rouge on its way to the nearby industrial park at Caracol; TVs, fans and cell phones followed. A National University campus was built just a few miles west of town. St. Barthélémy students are graduating, some continuing their education to become teachers, nurses, accountants, leaders. A new day is dawning in northeast Haiti.
The legacy of the leadership of Pere Bruno, Berry Rice, and Rob Fisher and the work of countless Haitians who have put legs on their dreams has been a force for transformation, of opportunity, of hope and life for the people of northeast Haiti. It has been a privilege to be a witness to and a small part of Bethlehem Ministry’s support of Espérance et Vie and Jatrofa Projenou. May the next new day be just a bit brighter than the last.
Board of Directors, 2014-2020