Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Haiti? No... South Dakota

As any of my followers know, I've applied to Teach for America and I'm in the waiting period.  The face to face interview is in a few days.  But in the meantime, I've been teaching English to my kids in Haiti and reading everything I can about South Dakota.  So this is what I've found. Alcoholism affects 8 out of 10 families. The housing shortage is large. There are families that live for months in a tent.  An average of 17 people live in a house built for four. Approximately 49% of the households are without electricity. The houses are lacking stoves, refrigerators, beds and furniture. Water is stored in fifty gallon containers. Malnutrition is rampant. Families lack money to buy food. Tuberculosis, pneumonia, alcohol related accidents, and violence is common place.  Twelve year old children have been treated because of venereal diseases.  Early sexual activity leads to a high number of teen pregnancies. Diabetes is found in 45% of the adults. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Effects including abnormalities affects every aspect of the population.  Bi-polarity and manic depressive disorder lead to suicide. Teen suicide is the second leading cause of teen death rates.  The rate for abuse and neglect is double the US rate. 40% of all cases of child abuse are not reported. Sexual abuse causes changes in school performance, aggressiveness, depression and suicide attempts. 

I find it amazing how many similarities there are between the South Dakota kids and my Haiti kids.  What may be seen as a great disparity between the United States and Haiti is not so different in reality. It's time someone started shouting this from the hilltop. 

South Dakota? No.... Haiti

Monday, February 11, 2013

English Classes in Haiti

Yesterday, just when I was having what my Haiti sister and I call "Haiti withdrawals" one of the kids (maybe I should call him a young man) IM'd me on Facebook and told me that he and a group of friends got together, found a place that has a computer and Skype.  They asked if I would teach them on Monday.  So... that was today and we held class for a little over an hour.  It was great and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of the class.  There were only five students but that was perfectly fine.  All the students were unknown to me before 3:00 today. So we spent just a few minutes exchanging our names then we got right to work.  My first class is always going over the a-b-c's and the sounds that the letters make.  Creole speakers have a tendency not to open their mouths when they talk and when the English words come out... often they sound like something close but not exactly.  This group of guys speak English "piti" meaning only a tiny bit.  But I'm always amazed because when I share my screen and type a word, they almost always can, what I'll call read... the words.  So to practice our sounds I typed the words, chip, ship, sheep.  We practiced and practiced until my ears could actually hear the differences between the words. Then I asked them to try using the words in a sentence.  Well, as it turns out they had no idea what any of those words meant. Now I'm smiling because sure, they can say those words but they have no idea what they are saying.  Time here for the teacher (read Vicki) to back up and do some checking.  Chip<<< what does that mean? OH no clue!  Chips, potato chip, you know fried potatoes?  No? Ok, well let's see..... (Many times in Haiti, things are called the name brand) so I tried "Frito lay" and the smiles came out!  So now we know chips!  Ship was easy to explain with a few hand movements and the word water, and sheep was easy enough it's mouton. The class ended about an hour and a few minutes later with promises to see each other again on Friday at 3:00 (central time)  

Now you might be wondering why I'm talking about this when my last couple of posts have been about Teach for America.  This is why.  My heart lives in Haiti but a side trip to South Dakota is what God has planned for me. (I think)  I've already begun a blog that will be used to connect the kids in Haiti to the kids in South Dakota. I think they will find they have more in common than either one of them will believe.  I've been spending hours researching the kids in South Dakota and found they have a low graduation rate and something like every 26 seconds a kid (across the US) drops out of school.  I think pairing up kids in Haiti with kids in South Dakota will be a good thing. The kids in Haiti would give anything to have the chance to go to school, maybe they can encourage the kids in SD to stay in school.  Just thinking about Skyping with the two classes at the same time makes me excited!  

If this doesn't work out with Teach for America I'm sure there is a reason. I'm trusting that God always knows that what ever He has planned for me, is ok with me. But until TFA tells me to pack my bag, you can find me teaching English to students at 4:00 (Haiti time) Look for us on Skype.  We'll conference you in! 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Teach for America Update from Illinois

Sunday afternoon in Illinois in February, it's raining, cold and the wind is blowing but I'm still a happy camper.  Teach for America invited me to the face to face interview.  I just want to remind everyone and myself as well... God has a plan.