Imagine a world where public schooling is available, but in order to get to school, you have to walk for miles or take open air public transportation that you can’t afford. And, when you finally get to school, you receive a very poor education.
This is the reality in Haiti, a country blasted to worldwide front-page news in January 2010, when a 7.0-magnitude earthquake rattled these tiny islands. Charitable organizations from a multitude of backgrounds rushed from across the globe to help the people of Haiti recover, but what many of them did not realize was that Haiti was in a state of emergency long before the earth gave out from under them.
With the comparatively low quality education available in their free, public schools, about 90% of Haitian schoolchildren attend private or church-run schools. For the poorest of these children, not only their future, but their very survival depends on their opportunity for education.
Employees Volunteer in Haiti
TURBOCAM employees have a longstanding history of volunteerism in Haiti. Shortly after the earthquake in 2010, TURBOCAM employee Henry Burke went to Haiti to help with relief work.
My first foray to Haiti was in July 1987. I was on a building team at Nazon Church in Port Au Prince with Monadnock Bible Conference (MBC). MBC has a long and successful grassroots ministry with Haitian Christians since 1983. We dug ditches, built block walls, and made furniture. We toured the city and visited Cite Soleil—one of the most desperate places on the planet, at the time. I’d never ventured outside of the U.S. before. The paradoxes of poverty and injustice and the peace and joy of Haitians were quite confusing for a while. The experience had a profound effect on my worldview and ideas of how to think and act on decreasing poverty. My admiration and understanding of the people and complexities of Haiti grew as well. I feel like a piece of my heart took root in Haiti as a result. I began to financially contribute to work there, and I followed the news and ministry of MBC to Haiti. I got married one year later and began raising a family. It took a lot of discussion and planning to get the chance to return to Haiti.
In 2012, my wife and I led a group of nine people from my church, First Congregational Church of Barrington, on a work team. We partnered with another New Hampshire church and with Monadnock Bible Conference’s “Love in Motion” ministry. We worked on ongoing construction of the Redeemers Child orphanage in Croix des Bouquets (Cross of Flowers).
Again in 2014, I returned to Haiti with my wife and son, along with FCCB team members, including several teens and a few TURBOCAM employees – Ben Wakeman, John Savioli, and Jason King. We worked on Redeemers Child Orphanage and setup and ran a food distribution to a few neighborhoods in the Delmas area of Port Au Prince.
With more than its fair share of hardship from the 2010 earthquake and direct hits from hurricanes before and after, Haiti continues to need our involvement, love and prayer. ~ Henry Burke
After losing contact for 35 years, long-time TURBOCAM employee Esther Blouch, was reunited with John and Beth McHoul in 2013. She learned of their work at Heartline Ministries (HM) in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. HM walks alongside men, women, and children during their life journeys, meeting critical physical, emotional, financial, educational, and most importantly, spiritual needs.
As a result of our reunion, I took TURBOCAM employees to work at HM in Haiti. In 2014, we scraped, sanded, primed, and painted the 65-foot wall that surrounds the Heartline property; painted classrooms; built tables for the Beltis Bakery; and put electricity and fans in offices. In 2016, we built and shellacked 12 tables to hold the bread that the Haitians sell out on the street; painted the wall in front of the bakery; visited orphanages; and delivered food from Feed the Hunger. It is a life-changing experience to visit and work in a third world country. ~ Esther Blouch
Soon after Esther’s return, Erik Travis, another TURBOCAM employee, went to Haiti in 2015 to partner with the founder of the Siloe School, Pastor Renes, on entrepreneurial programs and see firsthand the work going on at the school. The pastor was introduced to Erik by a coworker, Al Perkins. Al met the pastor in 1998 while working at another site in Port au Prince with AFCA village.
Pastor Renes works tirelessly to make Haiti a better place. He has a vision and passion to educate the next generation. I am privileged to know him and work with him. I look forward to seeing the Siloe School completed and watching other schools just like it develop in other underserved areas in Haiti. ~ Erik Travis
Opening the School
Pastor Renes Deciere and his wife Monique started the Siloe School in 2009, with nine students in an underserved neighborhood of Port au Prince. They discovered that the public school in Port au Prince was a half hour from them, which meant that children walked or took a Tap Tap, gaily painted buses or pick-up trucks that serve as share taxis, to school. Since most families are poor, they cannot afford a Tap Tap, so many children do not attend school. There are some local schools available, but these require payment in full or that your child has a sponsor.
The Decieres also learned that parents, who cannot afford to raise their children, send them to local orphanages. The orphanages provide food, shelter, clothing, and an education. This creates a financial burden on the orphanages because the children never leave. Their parents won’t let anyone adopt their children in the hopes they can afford to take them back someday.
How TURBOCAM Became Involved With the Siloe School
Shortly after opening, TURBOCAM became involved with the Siloe School through Al Perkins. The company offered to pay expenses for employees to travel to Haiti and work at the school as cross-cultural, third world volunteers.
I have been working in Haiti since 1998, leading teams of people from churches to do relief and development work to help the Haitian people. As mentioned above, I met the pastor years ago. He just walked up to me and said hello and the rest is history!
I’m honored to work for a company whose Mission includes “supporting Christian service to God and people.” Most people who visit Haiti with me often describe the experience as a “life-changing one.” I’ve come to see my visits there as an annual calibration of my values and understanding of what’s really important in life. ~ Al Perkins
The school continues to grow and now has 80 students. In 2016, they added a preschool and 7th grade.
How You Can Help
It’s easy to find opportunities to support missions in Haiti. Due to government interference, those in need do not always receive the donations in full. One of the most impactful opportunities to contribute is in education. If you feel led to support the Siloe School, the best way is to send donations to our partners in Haiti. The funds they receive go directly to helping the people of Haiti with food, water, clothing, housing, and education.
To give, please make your check payable to Partners with Haiti with a comment “Siloe School,” and mail to Partners with Haiti, 25 Old County Road, Barrington, RI 02806.