S EW ICK LEY
SP EAK IN G
John Peter, an orphan at IDADEE Orphanage, enjoys some special time on the rope swing with his house father, Vilbran, who grew up in EBAC Orphanage.
Lower School teacher Kathy Boehmig comforts 2-year-old Loveka, an orphan in Haiti.
In October, Lower School teacher Kathy Boehmig visited Haiti for seven days as the recipient of the Sculley Sabbatical. Most of her time was spent in two orphanages, teaching in the school and spending time with children, teachers, and leaders. She explains, “My heart was broken by the conditions I saw. But when one’s heart gets broken, it is also opened. My heart was warmed and filled up by the love and joy of the children, the resilience of dedicated people with a vision and a dream, and the hope, inspiration, and thoughtful reflection that followed.” This is her story. The small plane bumped along the runway. A wrecked old plane sat beside the crumbling tarmac. We grabbed our luggage and headed into the one low building that was the entire airport in Cap Haitien. Cap Haitien is nestled in the mountainous tropical terrain on the northern coast of Haiti, near the bay where Columbus first landed in the West Indies, the island of Hispaniola. Scrambling into a rusted-out school bus, we made our way through the crowded streets of a city that has swelled to bursting since the January 2010 earthquake, which devastated and tore apart the southern part of this already stricken nation. Along washed-out, pot-holed roads, motorcycles roared with entire families on them, pick-up trucks packed with passengers swerved across the road, women walked past with oversized loads on their heads, men shouted, watched, and called
out to each other. A few flimsy boards made a hut, where a family sold small cans of charcoal. Trash was everywhere. The stench of open sewers and garbage filled the hot, humid, noisy air. Haiti, just 600 miles from Miami’s coastline of five-star hotels and restaurants, stands as a stark reminder that not everyone in the world lives the way many Americans do. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and is also one of the poorest and least developed countries in the entire world. The nation has struggled with constant political upheaval, health crises, an annual barrage of hurricanes, and the worst earthquake in the region in more than 200 years. The average Haitian earns little over $1 per day and more than 80 percent of the people live in poverty. We turned on the rutted, dirt road, passed through an iron gate, and children were
suddenly everywhere – running, calling, observing with watchful eyes. We had arrived at EBAC Orphanage, where 85 children live and go to school. They are safe here – safe from the dangers of the street, from the ravages of hunger, from the empty, destructive patterns of idleness. As we stepped off the bus, they thronged around us with smiles and welcomes. Suddenly a hand slipped into mine and dark, beautiful eyes looked up at me, “Will you be my friend?” He was 10. His name was Alfred. EBAC Orphanage is the other side of the hard story of Haiti. It is the story where children, ages 4-21, have been rescued and provided for, not only in the physical needs of food and shelter and a safe place to live. They are also being educated through a curriculum that requires self-initiation in reading, researching, and learning concepts necessary to pass into higher levels. Children of varying ages
Published on Feb 27, 2012
Sewickley Speaking is the alumni magazine for Sewickley Academy - a premier Pittsburgh private school enrolling students in pre-k through gr...