School must go on

EBS student gives two thumbs  up/Tracy Simmons - CreedibleShe sat in a wooden chair in Jean-Ellie's office – which is a tent with a desk inside of it – and pleaded with him for more time.  She has three children attending Ecole Le Bon Samaritain, but since September has only paid $12 (U.S.) towards tuition. That's about $730 short of what she owes. Her husband died in the January earthquake and she's run out of money.

It's a story that the Milliens have heard too often this past year. Jean-Ellie patiently tells the woman that they can discuss it again in January.
He wants her children to stay at the school too, because he believes education can change the world. But money is tight for everyone, including the Milliens. They a have a staff to pay each month – cooks, teachers, maintenance. They have supplies to buy – food, bottled water, soap. But most of the EBS parents are without work now, so again and again Jean-Ellie patiently says yes, they can have more time.
"It's not easy running the school, but there's fun in it," he says as he spoons his clear, liquid medication into his morning coffee.
He has big plans for EBS. If through the Good Samaritain Rebuilding Fund at least another $200,000 can be raised, then Jean-Ellie says the school can be completely rebuilt, with a medical clinic for the community, a library and possibly a trade school for Haitians who couldn't take the academic route. And maybe the school could even extend to the ninth grade. Right now the school teaches pre-school through sixth grade. According to Haitian law, elementary school teachers are paid monthly. After that they are paid hourly, which EBS cannot afford.
After the earthquake it was impossible to resume classes right away, so the Milliens rented a nearby dance hall and opened up a medical clinic for the community. The Good Samaritain Rebuilding Fund sent five volunteer teams to the Milliens. But after a few months classes resumed and the owners of the dance hall nearly doubled the rent. The Milliens had no choice but to close the clinic. Their hope, though, is to re-open it as part of the school.
With the cholera outbreak here, Jean Ellie says the need for the clinic is crucial. The Milliens are looking for a place nearby they can rent. First they need space, then nurses, then medicine, which means bringing immediate help to cholera victims isn't possible right now.
So they keep teaching and keep hoping that more money and more helps comes their way.
"There's an old Haitian proverb that goes 'little by little, the bird puts his nest,'" Jean Ellie says, explaining that every dollar and every prayer helps. "We are working with people in crisis, so therefore anything you could give will be appreciated."
Jean Ellie, 77, and Mona, 67, have been running the school since 1997 but Jean Ellie says the future of the school is not in their hands.
"It depends on anyone who loves the world. The school is not only to benefit Carrefour or Haiti, it's something for the world. If they can get an education, and go onto a higher education, then the students of the school can go on and do something for this world," Jean Ellie says.
According to the Haitian constitution, parents are supposed to educate their children. But the government is only providing an education for 15 percent of the population. The other 85 percent have to pay for private schooling or be home schooled. Therefore, Jean Ellie explained, most students end up lacking an education.
Though money is important in keeping EBS running, Jean Ellie reminds us that Jesus didn't have any money and was able to transform the world.
"What builds a school is love," he says. "Pour out your love and money will come…We're looking for help whether it be $1, $10, $100 or thousands of dollars. But most of all it's not money it's love – a prayer for someone, for their life, for the future of the kids, for the teachers."


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