We are Greg Altman and Katie Burke, soon to be senior biology majors at Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y. This is our second update on our volunteer efforts at St. Gabriel's School, Fontaine, Haiti where we are spending five weeks this summer.
This past week was rather interesting because, in place of classes on two days, special Haitian vacation days were observed.
One of the days was Teacher Appreciation Day. Around noon the teachers who staff St. Gabriel's School gathered to discuss this past year and plan for the coming one. We sat in on this meeting and witnessed the great passion the teachers have for the school and their students. Following the meeting we were treated to a fabulous buffet style lunch made by the wonderful hardworking cooks here at St. Gabriel's School. Our personal opinion is that these four women, who provide meals for over two hundred and fifty people daily, are the unsung heroes of St. Gabriel's School.
The other vacation day honored the Haitian Flag. Leading up to this day the kindergarten students prepared handheld Haitian flags for the celebration.
Over the weekend, we hiked Mount Fontaine guided by two students from St. Gabriel's School, Jaquecin and Loubert. The hike was steep at times but the payoff was the view which captured the scenic beauty of Fontaine and the surrounding areas. The Haitian proverb "Mountains beyond Mountains" took on new meaning as we climbed. Mountains could be seen in every direction. Most interesting was Mount Pignon, which seemed to crop up out of nowhere. At the top of Mount Fontaine our guides took us to a fascinating cave where locals gather guano, bat manure, for fertilizing the cabbage crop.
The following day many of the children of Fontaine celebrated their First Communion at the local church. The priest from Pignon made the trip to Fontaine to celebrate this special liturgy. The children making their First Communion were all dressed in white and navy blue to mark the occasion. The event itself was beautiful with fresh cut flowers lining the ceiling and music, with its own Haitian flare, filling the church.
As our second week in Haiti comes to a close, we are looking forward to the full week of teaching that lies ahead.
Greg & Katie