Helping students in Haiti, one trip at a time
Granbyenne Hélène Bédard, who founded Les Advenes de Demain (LADD) Mission, has just returned from a new trip to Haiti, where three classes were freshly painted, just in time for the September 2nd opening. And this time, she did not go alone.
Since its birth, in January 2018, LADD Mission has allowed the sponsorship of nearly 40 Haitian children. For an annual donation of $ 100, it is possible to educate, dress and equip a student for a school year.
More and more people are coming forward to support the cause, so dear to Hélène Bédard, who is always amazed by the trust accorded to her by the donors, who are now as much inside as outside her social circle.
“Initially, the majority of donors were co-workers and family members. Some people gave me money and I did not even know it. Pure strangers! We call it trusting! Each time, it gives me faith in humanity, “says the main interested.
Curious and intrigued by her colleague’s project at the Phoenix school, orthopedagogue Marie-Claude Marcotte decided to do her part. For a year and a half, she has been the godmother of Jonathan, a 14-year-old orphan who, thanks to his financial support, was able to resume his schooling in the 4th year and thus avoid being enlisted in a drug distribution network. “My field is the school adaptation: I found it important that the young person hangs up, that he does not fall into the trap,” said Ms. Marcotte.
However, it was her son Gabriel, who wanted to live a humanitarian travel experience, who convinced her to go to the field.
“I was not sure Helen would accept, but I asked her,” she recalls.
“It took me about ten seconds to think about it, and it was clear that it was a big yes! “Adds Mrs. Bédard.
A decision she would not make with strangers, but reassure her for the future. “I was so afraid to go there with people, for fear it would not click, admits the teacher. I put cards on the table. I told them about the instability in Haiti, the demonstrations, the long road ahead. And thankfully, they showed openness from A to Z. They let themselves be guided in and never said they were uncomfortable or afraid. They never complained about work, heat, fatigue or conditions. It was wonderful ! ”
“It was a dream team,” says Bédard. I would take it like that every year! ”
The founder of the charity takes care to document each of her travels. It shows live projects progress on Facebook, all to prove that every dollar received is well invested.
The trio flew to Haiti on July 14, where Ms. Marcotte and her son stayed for two weeks.
“It was a cultural shock when arriving in Port-au-Prince,” says Marcotte. The dirt, the smells, the fact that people do not stop at street corners … ”
It is however a first visit to the village of Kay Kok, where several children helped by the foundation, which caused Mrs. Marcotte “a big emotion”. “Yes, it’s poor, but I did not expect that. The kids were playing on the beach, in dirt, she describes. It is an image that is not forgotten. I got hold of myself, because I did not want to cross the village crying. ”
Witness to the scene, Mrs. Bédard indicates that seeing her colleague in all its states reminded her of what she had chosen to get involved in, initially. “Now, what I see are children playing, laughing. I do not notice anymore that they are naked, in garbage. ”
“That does not mean that I do not see the misery anymore,” she says, “but I emphasize something else. If you only stop at the first impression, you can not help them. ”
The manual work, the ultimate goal of the trip, was colossal: oil paint the walls of three classes of the school Morning Star by an oppressive heat of 42 to 45 degrees Celsius, not to mention the humidity and a rainy night that delayed drying.
“I have never done physical work in such intense heat! When I arrived there, I did not think that we could do something so well in such a short time, “recalls the orthopedagogue, mentioning also the difficulty of obtaining the necessary equipment for the completion of the project.
“Here, even the base is hard to find,” says Mrs. Bédard. We made a pajama sweater to Gabriel because we did not have rags! We cut his shirt with a machete! ”
The mother-son duo was housed in a guest house with running water. A house more comfortable than the little house where Mrs. Bédard stays during her visits. “I wanted them to be comfortable, and it made me nervous. There, they had a roof, they were fed three times a day, they slept well and they did not miss anything, she explains. I wanted that in addition to seeing the miserable side of Haiti, they can also see the heavenly side that makes us fall in love! ”
However, it is not the beauty of the landscape that will be their most memorable memory of their trip.
During this one, Gabriel Marcotte-Boily was able to observe the cultural differences, but also of comfort which exist between young Haitians and young Quebecers. “I wanted to see real business,” he says. When we met Jonathan, I saw that he had nothing, that he had a lot of difficulties in life that I had not known. I find myself lucky. ”
His expedition will motivate him to continue his studies, adds one who begins his 5th secondary. “With Hélène, the foundation can educate them up to Grade 9, but they are unlikely to have access to higher education. Me, I have this chance, “he says.
Ms. Marcotte intends to tell her journey to her students so that they get a learning on the gift of self.
“For me, it’s the faces of smiling children that I brought back with me, instead of thinking about poverty,” she says. I would say that this trip gave me a much more positive image than the one I had before. ”
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