St Jules School
St. Jules Elementary School in Petit Bourg du Borgne (Tibouk) has provided a quality Christian education to the children of a remote, poorly educated area for decades. It currently serves over 300 students between preschool and 8th grade and has seen consistent growth in enrollment over the school’s life. It offers courses such as reading, writing, math, civics, a variety of different languages, electrical circuitry, carpentry, plumbing, sewing, culinary arts, and various other classes. The school has had a tremendous impact on the lives of the people in that region.
It is hard to imagine the difficulty of getting to attend a school in the mountainous region of Petit Bourg du Borgne, Haiti. Not many families can afford. An education in Haiti is over half of many families’ yearly income. For many, it is a difficult decision where parents must decide if they are willing to go hungry so their children can learn to read. If a family is fortunate enough to raise enough money for a child to get an education, there is also the problem of getting to the school. Many students must travel long distances, hours sometimes, over mountain paths and rivers to get there. Even when families live close to the school inclement weather, or the need for a child to help at home, can interrupt the journey. Political unrest since last year has detoured families from enrolling. It is a very different world from what we are accustomed to. Children that are able to attend consider themselves to be very fortunate.
To help relieve at least the financial burden of getting an education, the Wharton Charitable Foundation in Memphis has made a commitment since 2011 to provide a minimum of 95 scholarships to deserving students each year. Funding for the program is referred to as an “adoption child support” program. Donors for the program are assigned a specific child and that assignment continues until the child completes the sixth grade. Once a child enters the scholarship program, he/she continues to be eligible for support through the sixth grade based on academic performance. Parents are required to become involved with their student and to provide service to the school. Service projects are identified by the pastor and principal. It is a $200 scholarship that includes yearly tuition, books and supplies, and one hot meal a day.
The Immaculate Conception Haiti Ministry also offers other support to help the school. A new facility was built in 2016 to accommodate over 400 students. It is beautifully designed and constructed and comes equipped with electric lights powered by solar energy. In the future, there are plans for new classroom spaces, a library, offices, and the possibility of computer labs. There are a myriad of potential improvements that can take place in the ever-changing life in Haiti surrounding the school.
Many students in Tibouk dream of attending a university and travelling abroad to further their educations so that they may one day return to Haiti offer their skills and connections to support their home country. Little by little, St Jules Elementary School and a multitude of benefactors, volunteers, and professionals in both the US and Haiti have helped these young people realize their dreams.