The pictures are of a few of the school children that the Lamp sponsors, near to our clinic in Cité Soleil. Education is not the primary focus of the Lamp but it’s hard to underestimate its value. People in Cité Soleil are well aware that education is the one sure way to give yourself, and your children, a chance at a better life. In response, the Lamp has been supporting children in the local schools of Bwa Nèf ever since our clinic was established here. This year we will be supporting 23 young people.
Ideally, one would love to support many more, and above that, the local schools themselves. There are more than 1,000 children in the five schools closest to the Lamp’s clinic. We provide occasional support for the schools – sponsoring the studies of one school’s principal so that his school could be state-approved, providing a tutoring program at another school. But there is always more to do; a program of teacher training which includes a summer camp for kids has long been one of our dreams.
Until that dream is realized, though, it has been very gratifying to realize that our support, small though it is, has been of tremendous importance to the local community. Regular, reliable, fees for 23 children is in fact an enviable source of income for these schools. The large majority of families struggle mightily to provide the necessary fees but are often forced to keep some children at home, or to see their children sent home for lack of payment. Schools are always on the edge of financial collapse.
So it was a pleasant surprise to note that one of the schools, where most of our sponsored children go, was expanding its facilities. The owner, Ms Samson, was clear: it is only because of our regular sponsorship that she could take the risk.
The Lamp’s first priority here in Bwa Nèf is to provide the best health care we can, but we also want to make sure that we are an open and engaged member of the larger community. Our education program is one great way to do that.