By Molly Moser
“There are no conveniences. Everything is much harder to do, and takes much more time,” said Neil Hofer, who traveled to Fond-des-Blancs, Haiti in January with the Haitian Christian Development Fund (HCDF). On Sunday, Hofer spoke about the experience to members of Guttenberg’s United Methodist Church, where he serves as pastor.
Hofer and others in his group worked at L’Exode, a school serving roughly 500 elementary students and 170 more in grades seven through nine. The school is currently being developed to hold classes for high school students, and is expected to be complete in 2018. Armed with boxes of screws donated by Meuser Lumber, Hofer helped fix and build desks, paint walls, organize the school’s library, and teach others to use tools.
“Less than 50% of children in Haiti go to school, and only a fifth of those that do make it to secondary school,” said Cheri Lane, Hofer’s niece and HDCF representative. Hofer shared a photo of primary school students at L’Exode, and explained that Haitian children who attend school are required to take a government test to determine if they get to continue their formal education. “The official language of the country is French, so the tests are administered in French – which is not the native language,” said Lane.
In spite of the odds, said Hofer, “The big revelation is that people are getting educated, and are staying there rather than moving away.”