“In the past, when my own children were young, it was really difficult to get them to school,” recalled Celinord St. Felix, 70. St. Felix raised his 14 children in St. Hilaire, Haiti, a rural and remote community on the top of a mountain, just outside of Les Cayes where the buildOn Haiti office is located. The poor condition of the road makes it difficult to get there. On October 13, buildOn inaugurated its 500th school in St. Hilaire – and now St. Felix’s 38 grandchildren will attend.
The previous school was far away so St. Felix would carry his children on his shoulder down the mountain to make sure they made it to the road safely. “In the afternoon, I was obliged to go back down and get them, especially if it was raining, because I was always concerned for their safety.”
The community’s previous school was made from palm fronds, a flimsy structure that didn’t shelter students from the wind or rain. St. Felix is happy that his grandchildren, who are his financial responsibility, will be getting a quality education in a permanent structure and they will be nearby.
“In the past, I always had to find some money somehow to give to the kids for lunch. If I didn’t have it, I was obliged to borrow from someone else, and go into debt. Now with the new school being so close, I will be able to give my grandkids food right here at my own house! It will save our family a lot of money and problems.
St. Felix is also thinking about his own education. He’s planning to attend the Adult Literacy Program, catered to adults who can’t read or write.
This is part of a series of stories celebrating buildOn’s milestone this month of reaching 500 school built globally and one million hours served by United States students locally. During the next few weeks we’ll be looking at buildOn’s impact on several communities where we build overseas and where we serve in the U.S.