St. James' in Haiti
St. Jaques' School ("École Saint-Jaques") in Haiti is situated in a remote area of northern Haiti, near the border of the Dominican Republic, a 12-hour journey by road from the capital city of Port-au-Prince. The school has approximately 120 students, ages 5 through 14. The Head of School and three other teachers cover the four classes taught at Saint-Jaques. Students, the children of subsistence farmers, come from the surrounding area and often walk many miles each way to get to the school: a plastic tarp supported by four poles in the middle of a cleared area. A group from St. James' Los Angeles visited the area in spring 2008 but was unable to reach the school, owing to heavy rain that rendered the roads impassible. We met the Head of School and several students, who had hiked for three-and-a-half hours to meet us to take back the supplies we collected from the student body. They are delighted to be partnering with us.
In 2010, one of our faculty members, Mrs. Brown, visited Saint-Jacques, actually reaching the school for the first time. She delivered sunglasses that the students of St. James' had collected. (Because of the intense sun, eye problems are very common in Haiti.) She also delivered stuffed animals and handmade cards from two of our classes. On the dusty plateau where Saint-Jacques sits, the students have created a large soccer field. There is no grass on the field, just dirt, and the goals are made of two sticks coming up from the ground with string connecting the tops. The most popular gift of the trip was certainly the soccer balls. Mrs. Brown spent two hours playing soccer with about 60 boys.
Mrs. Brown returned in 2011 to deliver service projects designed and implemented by her 5th grade global health classes. The projects included solar ovens; handmade Creole alphabet, number, and animal books; solar lamps; and large bags of beans and rice.