The evening before we left Tricotte a few weeks ago, Bernie, Dave, and I were invited to a party at the orphanage. The results were in for the standardized tests that every Haitian student takes at the end of each school year, and the children at the orphanage had done extremely well.
To say that they did extremely well was even an understatement. Every single student had passed his or her test, and that is unheard of in Haiti.
In Haiti, there is no “social promotion.” Every student takes a standardized national exam each year. The students who pass, advance to the next grade level. Those who don’t pass, repeat the grade until they pass. It is not unusual for some students to remain in the same grade for several years before they are able to move on. It is considered a success if 70% to 80% of the students in a school pass the exam each year.
That is why it was so impressive to hear that 100% of the children in the orphanage – including several who had previously struggled in school – had advanced. And we were delighted to join the children in celebrating this achievement.
Much of the reason for this accomplishment is the orphanage administrator and house father, Edner Destima. Edner took this position shortly before the 2009-2010 school year began. And while all reports have been encouraging, and while everything we’ve observed has indicated Edner was doing a great job, it wasn’t until we received this news that it became clear just how positive Edner really was for the children.
It is evident that Edner has become an earthly father to the fatherless. He provides both the structure and discipline the children need to succeed and the love and nurturing they need to thrive.
Late one afternoon, I sat with Edner near the orphanage discussing issues and challenges that the orphanage faced. As we spoke, two of the older orphanage girls came by with a young girl I hadn’t seen before. When the young girl saw Edner, she ran to him and leapt into his lap.
Edner shared with me that she had been orphaned only a week earlier when her mother died from complications after childbirth (the baby, her little sister, had died, too). Now she lived with a relative in the village, but she spent a lot of time at the orphanage.
It is heart-wrenching to think of this child’s loss. But there is also joy to see Edner and the older orphans respond to her need. In a very short time, they had acted, they had won her trust, and they began to show her the love that she’ll need as she begins to grow.
I saw her at the orphanage several more times while we were in Tricotte. Usually she was with one of the older girls, who would care for her much as if she were a little sister or even a daughter. And that, to me, is an even greater sign of the success at the orphanage than academics. All of the children there have experienced this kind of loss. But they have been rescued, and their needs have been met. Now they naturally and genuinely reach out to another who is in need.
It has always been our hope to see our first generation of orphans mature, begin to give back, and become part of God’s solution to the problems facing Haiti. And in this we are beginning to see it happen.
So we praise God for the work He is doing in the orphanage. And we thank Him for you and the way He uses your support to accomplish His purposes in Haiti.
Serving the Lord together,
Bernie, Sheryl & Philip Bovenkamp
P.S. Thank you for your prayers for Glenn. They are making progress toward a diagnosis of his condition, although they aren’t there yet. We hope to have some clear answers soon.