The pictures above are from the graduation of the Class of 2022 from our high school. The school has never faced fiercer challenges, and has never been more utterly invaluable to the community.
To put it in perspective, it took three attempts to get down to the school because the situation in the country has been so unstable. Our prior security team, with whom we’ve worked with for years, turned us down in November, March, and again in May, each time on the grounds that it was impossible to guarantee safety to an acceptable standard; to quote the most recent time, a few weeks ago:
“This does not seem to be possible at the moment…The reality on the ground is that the last month has had the most gang v gang fighting PaP has experienced in the last few years, especially in the areas around the airport. The unfortunate reality is that the area is much like a war zone, and the unpredictability of some of the gang fighting is what makes it all the more dangerous.This is without mentioning the rise in number of kidnappings that are talking place in PaP and Haiti in general. We highly recommend not proceeding with this visit.”
There have officially been 200 killings and 200 kidnappings in Port-au-Prince over the past month. (Conservatively, one can assume triple those numbers, as the overwhelming tendency is not to report this kind of thing.) This compares with 37 equivalent occurrences in NYC, which has ten times the population. It means that Port au Prince is indeed effectively moving towards a sort of a war zone.
A recent article cites frightening statistics of children now being recruited into the gangs, much like child soldiers in other war-torn countries. The UN has had three kidnappings of their own in the past week, the last one an armed bodyguard, on his way to pick up the head of mission; he was kidnapped from his UN-marked military jeep – unheard of in the past 17 years.
Streets that I’ve driven in the recent past on my own with our headmaster in his car, where I brought my 11-year-old daughter, along with 35 students and teachers for weeklong English clinics, we now traverse in an armored vehicle with armed guards.
Why would we go into a situation this problematic one might ask? Quite honestly, we are keeping faith with the ongoing, heroic battle of the high school, students, faculty, and staff, to keep the flag flying, and saying the Foundation remains all in, despite the challenges.
But we cannot overstate just how vital the Foundation’s support is now in keeping this flame alive when the situation is so fiercely dark around it. We won’t have the results from this year‘s national exams for another couple of months, but just a reminder, last year we had an unheard-of 99% pass rate in the final baccalaureate, an exam that only 2% of the student population of Haiti even take. They are facing every possible adversity, natural and manmade, and coming out with flags flying.
The Foundation’s mission has never been more important. And if you feel like supporting the Foundation, and Andrew Grene High School, do feel warmly, gratefully invited to click here.