Resilience in the Face of Crisis
As our students prepare to return to school for the first time in months, they face more challenges than usual.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the entire world, and there have been more than 7,000 confirmed cases in Haiti. The actual number is likely higher because many Haitians are reluctant to seek treatment due to poor health infrastructure and mistrust of healthcare providers.
Back to School Difficulties
Here in America, we face many difficulties getting students and teachers back in schools safely. But in Haiti, the situation is even more complicated. Many homes and neighborhoods lack running water, making it hard for people to wash their hands to avoid spreading germs. Families may not be able to afford masks or be able to wash them frequently enough to keep them clean. Most parents can’t work from home, and students lack the equipment and internet access to participate in remote learning, creating more opportunities for potential exposure to the virus.
To make matters worse, the country is facing a fuel shortage, which has caused frequent blackouts. At L’Ecole Dinaus Mixed, we’ve been forced to make several repairs before school starts – including repairs to the kitchen, entryway, and the main water pump that provides running water to the school and surrounding community.
Despite these challenges, our students will be returning to school with a smile on their face. Why? Because they know it’s a great privilege to be able to attend school at all – even if it’s not under ideal circumstances.
In Haiti, especially in rural areas, many students can’t afford to attend school or have to drop out at a young age. Our students in La Plaine know they have been given a special opportunity, and they won’t take it for granted.
This adversity requires our students to become increasingly resilient. Of course, we wish all of the people of Haiti lived in prosperity and no one ever had to go hungry or worry about getting clean water, but that is unfortunately not the reality. So, we must look for the positive and help our students gain valuable experience despite hardship.
Benefits of Building Resilience
Resilience can help children learn to be flexible when a bad situation arises or is out of their control. Accepting uncertainty or lack of control goes a long way to help avoid feeling overwhelmed or depressed.
Learning to practice resilience also helps to increase persistence. Getting a good education in Haiti is not easy. It requires persistence from children, their parents, and their teachers. Only 22% of Haitian children continue in a secondary school after finishing elementary school, and an even tinier percentage go on to study at a university. But the resilience children learn at a young age can help them push forward, even when the path is difficult.
Greater resilience will also help to create the next generation of strong leaders for Haiti. A good leader knows how to learn from failure and model positive actions for followers, even when faced with a crisis.
Finally, resilience leads to creativity and ingenuity. When the easy or “typical” option isn’t available, a resilient person gets creative. This year, the students at L’Ecole Dinaus Mixed will undoubtedly find new ways to keep their hands clean to avoid spreading germs, figure out how to social distance, or even find new ways to make a face mask if they can’t afford one.
Even though these children face hardships due to poverty and the pandemic, the chance to get an education means that our students could grow up to be a doctor who heals the sick, a scientist who cures diseases like COVID-19, or even the future president of Haiti who helps improve the lives of all Haitians. The hope of a brighter future, no matter what today looks like, keeps us going in our work.
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” Helen Keller
Donate today to help our students in Haiti continue their education even in these times of crisis.