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SCHOOL IS A SUMMER BLESSING FOR YOUNG TWINS IN PORT-AU-PRINCE
Fabiola Hyppolite has lived the last six months in a tent with more than 40 people— along with her mother, her father, her twin, and two other sisters.
Her family lost the small cinderblock home they rented in Port-au-Prince on January 12th. Today, their belongings consist of a few clothes and a large mattress, wedged among dozens of others that cover nearly all the ground under their tent.
Life since the earthquake has turned a new kind of hard for this 9-year-old. Fabiola has asthma and allergies. In the crowded conditions under the large tent provided by US AID—among several others like it in this improvised tarp “city”—the still air stays dusty and the linens off-color. There is no running water, no toilets. People cook on make-shift grills in the narrow dirt alleys running between tents. When Fabiola speaks, her raspy voice is barely audible. Her small chest heaves with every breath. There is no doctor nearby.
This summer, Fabiola and her twin, Fabienne, have at least one treat: They get to go to school. By being in their fourth-grade class, they don’t have to while away the hours of the searing midday heat under the plastic of their home. Although their school was badly damaged in the earthquake, the temporary set-up for classes is not as oppressive.
Neither of the twins would be able to attend school if it were not for Haitian Ministries’ scholarship program. With donations from people in the United States, the Tierney-Tobin Memorial Scholarship program pays the school tuitions for more than 130 students. Fabiola and Fabienne have been in the program for two years; each girl has a sponsor who has pledged to pay for her education for at least five years. Without these sponsorships, the girls would have no schooling. Since the government provides very little public education, more than 90 percent of all students in Haiti are attending private institutions. Tuitions often run higher than what families make in a year.
Right after the earthquake, Fabiola’s father lost his job as a security guard at a private home. The family decided to leave the country. Today, he wanders the city looking for work, and Fabiola’s mother usually stays at the tent. She also has a 7-year-old and another daughter who is 11.
Although the Hyppolites have no income, they have become members of a special community, forged from destitution and formed to provide at least some of the basic necessities for all the families under the tent. People pitch in whatever coins or bills they can, and someone selected as the shopper buys as
Fabiola (left) and twin Fabienne Hyppolite, in the tent where they live. much water, rice, beans, and corn as possible. Cooking is usually communal.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” says Fabiola’s 44-year-old mother, Edith.
For now, though, school is in session. Classes will end in August, and a new academic year should begin in October. Fabiola is already looking forward to next year. She likes history, geography and mathematics. And, on one Saturday afternoon under her tent, Fabiola says that she would like to send a “thank-you” to the person who has made school so wonderfully possible in her life.
If you would like to learn about sponsoring a Haitian student in primary school, secondary school, technical school, or university, please contact Haitian Ministries at: 860.638.1018; or by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, you can learn about the Tierney-Tobin program at our website: www.haitianministries.org (Just click “Projects/Partnerships” on the left side of the home page, and you will see “Education.”)