Kathe’s Story

What I thought was going to be a trip to Gressier, Haiti to provide education to children at the Community School of Bellevue turned into a life changing experience! Sue Mardinly, President of Mommy Sue’s Children was a Guest Speaker at our Rotary Club earlier this year.  Sue spoke about her trip to Haiti after the earthquake in 2010 when she went to volunteer as an emergency relief worker.  While there is where she met Maxo, the principal of The Community School of Bellevue which provides education to children who are among the poorest of the poor. The school provides education to children from Pre- K thru the 8th grade. A ninth grade is being added shortly.  Maxo had built the school with his own money so the children would have a place to receive an education.  Sue learned that the school was about to close from the loss of support from disaster response group no longer coming.  The need in the community is so great that it grew beyond his ability to support it.  After her presentation, I told her that I would love to go with her on her next trip. I felt compelled to meet Maxo and help these students in any way possible 

On November 9, 2017, Lynne, a retired R.N and myself, a retired social worker joined Sue as members of Mommy Sues first team traveling to Haiti.   We were greeted by Maxo along with his driver who drove us from Port au Prince to Gressier which took about three hours. Throughtout our trip Maxo would be our translater.  It was during that time, I witnessed the challenges and obstacles the Haitians face on a daily basis. Trash and debris lined the streets- the stench was overwhelming.  Merchants seven rows deep -elbow to elbow trying to sell their wares to customers.  Homes without doors- only a sheet covering the doorway for privacy.  There were homes without furniture or only a mattress to sleep on; bathrooms were literally a hole in the ground with an enclosed area for privacy.  Children were without clothing or shoes; Many were begging for someone to purchase fruit or vegetables. All this prepared me to meet many of the children who live under these impoverished conditions.  

 Upon our arrival the children were so excited to see Mommy Sue.  We arrived with a full agenda for the next five days.  We had seven large suitcases filled with educational and medical supplies.  Sue provided an Art Project and had a suitcase filled with art supplies, drawing and creative art books. Now the school has all the necessary materials to add an Art Class to the curriculum. Sue took pictures of each student as they completed their finished project for them to have a keepsake of their art work.  In addition, Sue gave the music teacher four recorders, a giant piano mat and sheet music. The teacher was delighted to receive such a generous donation. She immediately picked up the recorder and started to play and the children gathered to hear the unfamiliar sound and listened with joy, waiting for the day they can play themselves.  Before traveling to Haiti, my granddaughter and made fifty shakers with various size beans for the little one to shake to the beat of their favorite songs, to add to the class.  The children really enjoyed themselves.  

Lynne provided Dental and Oral Hygiene Education along with presenting each child with their own toothbrush and toothpaste in baggies to take home.  These items were generously donated by Lynne’s church.  Lynne amused the children with wind up dancing teeth. Many of the children had never had a toothbrush prior to that day. 

 I provided a Literacy Project and presented Maxo and the children with sixteen books written in Haitian Creole and English and two large dictionaries.  In addition, there were many new books to educate the children in art, history, music, reading, poetry, and science.  The books will be kept in the Library for their use. The look on the children’s faces as they gently paged through each of the children’s books- all smiling at the pictures as I read to them. – Just Priceless!  

Also, through a very generous donation we were able to provide medical supplies for the school nurse and completely filled her supply closet.  Prior to our trip they had nothing.  She was overcome with emotion as she looked through the supplies and very grateful to be starting her new position knowing that she would be able to meet any medical need that may arise. 

 There are so many needs as I looked around.   the classrooms that are furnished with long tables and small wicker weaved wooden chairs. Thin flat wood panels are the dividing walls between classrooms; many being utilized as blackboards. The bathroom facility for the children is a hole in the ground in an enclosed small area. Visually seeing these conditions, I realized this will be one of many more trips to Haiti. I am committed to use my social work skills and experience to help find a solution to create an environment in which these children can thrive and receive an education. My giving story is not just about the change within me that has happened because of this experience, “my giving” will encompass giving of myself along with financial contributions.  Seeing this poverty has definitely change the way I give!  

The Well, Well House and one of the kindergarten classrooms were made possible with grants from the Rotary and Gundaker Foundations in partnership with Mommy Sue’s Children. As a Rotarian it was a wonderful opportunity for me to see firsthand what our contributions are used for and the impact it is making on the children that attend the school.  School supplies are very limited.  After seeing the overwhelming needs of the people in Haiti, especially the children. I am planning to return with Mommy Sue and the rest of the team in the Spring 2018.  Please consider joining us on our next trip. 

 Remember that these parents have the same dreams for their children’s future as we do our own children and grandchildren. I have witnessed the many needs of these children.  If you would like to join us in making a difference in children lives through Education please go to the link provided on this website.