Celebrating the End of the School Year with an Excursion

Helping children discover their strengths and greatness.
July 13, 2018 - Haiti

Students at the special class in St. Helen on their end of year excursion

This past Wednesday I had the great pleasure of accompanying the students of L'Ecole Junior des Arts et des Metiers (EJAM) on their end of year excursion. The program was developed 6 years ago to cater for the needs of the children who have learning difficulties and who are failing in the regular school system. Very often many children just need some extra attention and after a year or two can return to mainstream education. For many children, the French language is just too confusing in comparison to Creole – the language of the people of Haiti. In many aspects, French and Creole sound similar (excluding the accents), unfortunately the dictation and grammar rules are very different. For the students with learning and hearing difficulties, French is great a challenge to learn.

With small classes, a team of teachers - Jennie Jean Charles, Veronite Sufal and Sonson Altidor who are dedicated and believe in their students, the children begin to blossom. They begin to discover their strengths in areas such as; Arts, Crafts, Cooking, Dance, Caring for Others, Carpentry, Gardening, Computers, English, Spanish. Time, energy and care is invested in each child.

Initially, the program was developed for children from the NPH Haiti St. Helene home, but for the past two years they are welcoming children from the community. Families are beginning to recognize that this cohort of children can learn.

The outing on Wednesday was to the Portofino Ice-cream Factory and Bakery followed by Fr Rick's Frechette chicken and fish farms. The staff at the ice-cream factory and bakery were very kind and welcoming. The children were interested in everything, from all of the variteies of ice-cream, pain au chocolat, pâtes, and watching the staff as they went through the processes. The staff were just as interested as the children, all asking endless questions and with the politest of manners. Everyone was very happy to enjoy vanilla and coconut ice-cream in the hot Tabarre sun. It was “gou anpil” [very delicious]. Lots of very happy children and adults enjoyed the treat.

At the fish farm at NPH Haiti St. Damien's Pediatric Hospital, we were greeted by one of the friendliest dogs in Haiti – Beau – who was delighted to have children to visit. We learned about the fish which the children eat for Sunday lunch, from fish fry to dinner on the plate. And had a go at feeding the fish. The next stop was to get a tour of the chicken farm at Francisville, Jean who grew up in St. Helen was a excellent tour-guide and was so proud to be the person tasked with the responsibility. Alexandre who was in the EJAM program gave us a tour of the depot where he works with Mme Nadine. He joined us for a fresh juice and snack. He was “very thankful to the teachers for all he learned in his time with them and that we all visited him in his place of work”. Gladimir and Ti Kathleen who now work at FWAL dropped in to say “hello”, they both had passed through the program. It is great to see them in their new roles, as proud and happy adults, they have all come such along way.

On Friday, the chicken which they purchased at Francisville was prepared and cooked by the children to share and enjoy their end of school meal before commencing their exams tomorrow. A big thank you to all who have supported this program in many ways since it's inception.

Happy Summer Holidays!

Jacinta McGuane   
Coordinator of the Special Needs program




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