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IN THE SPOTLIGHT
A Holiday Full of Hope for COHP
By Forrest Broman 18-Dec-14
The Children of Haiti Project (COHP) – Update for December 2014“In the face of human tragedy, doing nothing is not an option.” Forrest Broman and Frank Anderson spent three days in Haiti, meeting with parents, staff and children in the COHP Program, that now educates, feeds and cares for 65 impoverished children. Daily Routine The academic program runs from 8 am to 2 pm, and nearly 40 students stay on until 4 pm for extra help and tutoring. Subjects include French, Reading Comprehension, Math, Writing, Art, and Science. There is no place in the school or nearby for a physical education program. Attendance is close to 100 percent, even though most students live an hour away and some need over two hours to get to school. Upon arriving, each student receives a vitamin and a light breakfast; at noon a generous portion of a lunch is served; prior to leaving each day, a sandwich is provided. Assessments The students were being tested by a government agency in French skills. The entire program is now taught in French (which the children do not hear at home and assistance with homework is minimal). The primary goal of our program is to get them ready for the National Exams in Grade 6, which determine their ability to continue in upper-level grades. Dominique is confident that our students will not just pass the exams, but will excel. She also has access to an external test specialist and reviews assessments in all areas periodically. General results have been extremely high. We also met at length with our devoted and talented leader, Dominique Pierre, without whom this excellent, model program could never have succeeded. All of the children are now in the Grades 3-5 program, which includes the original 51 students and the 14 older (Literacy Program) children. We completed our visit with an even stronger belief in the work being done at COHP, and in the progress of the students. They are active, happy, and responsive children who seem to love their school and all that it offers them. And we leave even more in awe of the tremendous care and energy Dominique devotes to all aspects of these children’s lives. She is a miracle in action. The parents expressed their deepest gratitude for this program and our care of their children. Deeply religious, they sent their blessings to all who have helped us mount this effort, and for whom they send prayers. Living Conditions I asked Dominique to categorize student living conditions as she visits every home, using “Satisfactory,” “Poor,” or “Terrible.” She judges all of them as "Terrible," because most are overcrowded hovels with no toilets or running water or electricity. (I visited with her several “residences” in the neighborhood--concrete or metal shacks lining unlit and twisted alley ways. Truly shocking!). In spite of this, the children show up well-groomed, clean and happy. Some students are placed with “host” families, and when all else fails, Dominique takes them to her own home. Four COHP children are currently living with Dominique and her husband Tony. Food is scarce in most of the children’s homes, and the sandwich the kids are given to take home for an evening meal is generally consumed before they get home, or is shared with other children in the dwellings who may not be receiving food many evenings. Staff Staff are pleased with their salary increases (avg. teacher pay: $350 monthly); and with the health care insurance. Four of the five are considered to be very good teachers. The fifth is being carefully monitored with respect to continuing her services. They work hard and show up daily, but only one speaks limited English. They are very enthusiastic about the opportunity to gain English language skills. Two of our instructors are attending night school to further their skills. English Language Program We asked Dominique when the English program would begin. Grade six (next year) would be the normal start. We suggested, and she agreed to hire, hourly teachers in January to start providing English instruction in the 2-4 pm enrichment time slot. Summer Program We will again operate a summer program at COHP, primarily to ensure that the children are properly fed over the summer break. English training will be included.
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12/27/2014 - Zara
This sounds amazing! Would one be able to come over and assist in the holiday programme?