“Is it time for children to go to Boucan Carre, Haiti?
I tested this question on my last trip to Haiti over President’s weekend school holiday. I took my 9 year old son, William with me. I must preface this by clarifying that over the last 9 years I have traveled to Boucan Carre dozens of times. It was a small group, 6 in total, and the visit was a short one, 3 days. Our purpose was two-fold: Inspect the new high school building, and introduce the Central Bearden Baptist Church committee to the Baptist community in Boucan Carre. We arrived after dark on the first day. William was well coached on the unusual level of nocturnal noises from dogs, goats and chickens, but that did not matter as he was thoroughly worn out from the long travel day.
On the first day he was not happy about our visiting schools, as school was the last place he wanted to be. He was embarrassed, a little, at the Baptist Primary school, because the children sang songs of welcome as we visited their classrooms. The students sang again in their classrooms at the College De St. Michel (high school). He was really shaken when we visited Ecole St. Michel because they let the 1500 students out of the classroom into the school yard. Then, ever more when the students realized he was Mr. Ben’s son, they began chanting his name and crowding around. They followed him around as we toured the school grounds. Finally, Sister Rose borrowed a student’s belt and began intimidating the students into backing away and giving William a little space.
After the visit and the school was let out, there were at least 50 students who continually ‘hung out’ around the rectory. William played soccer with them, taught them to write his name, taught them some English and generally played until well after dark each night. It was amazing how well they could communicate without speaking each other’s language. When we went to the market that first day, he was quite upset with me. He was not happy about being there and could not understand why I took him to the market which he found frightening. It is intimidating and I underestimated his discomfort level.
However, he very much enjoyed riding in the front seat as we drove around the Central Plateau. He took a very good set of photos of the sights along the road. His photo collection includes several ladies carrying heavy loads on their head, many over-loaded donkeys, some kids riding donkeys or horses, and the colorful tap-taps and buses. In retrospect, I would summarize that it is not a good idea to bring children on your first visit. Although, on repeat visits, under ideal circumstances, it would be an enlightening experience, but you will be very involved with them in constantly explaining the sights you are seeing.”
Deacon Ben Johnston, Chair
Haiti Outreach Program