By Kenneth Simmons
Several months after the horrific earthquake devastated Port-au-Prince in Haiti, I was commissioned along with a colleague, Ms. Judith Cowan, to travel to Haiti to teach English as a second language to a small group of college students who had attended the University of Port-au-Prince before it was destroyed. Our mission was sponsored by the “I Have a Dream” Foundation which is based in Richmond, Virginia..
The students with whom we worked lived in a small mountain town, Hinche, which is located about fifty miles northeast of Port-au- Prince. It takes two and a half hours to drive there from the capital city because of the rugged roads that traverse the ravines and rocky mountain sides. The majority of the citizens of Hinche have never had electricity, and roughly five percent are employed. The average earnings for a day’s work is approximately five dollars. Though poverty is rampant, the people were rich in love, and spirit, and decency, far more than most of those I have encountered in my homeland. The Catholic Church where we lived was filled with the town’s people at six o’clock every morning and at regular mass on Sundays.
Our assignment was to help the students reach an acceptable level of English proficiency so that they could succeed in our American Colleges. The foundation had promised to bring our eight students to the United States and enroll them in colleges where they were to be supported until they graduated. Afterwards, they were to return to their home country as strong leaders. The students were extremely motivated and worked diligently with us from eight in the morning until three thirty in the afternoon as we tried our very best to immerse them in the English language. Never in my thirty plus years of working with young people in our public schools had I experienced the pleasure of such good manners, motivation and a willingness to learn as when I worked with the students in Hinche, Haiti .
We returned to the U.S. in November of 2010; four of the students arrived in August of 2011 and were enrolled in J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond, Virginia. The other four students were to arrive at a later date because of a lack of funding, but to this day, they still remain in Haiti. After one year of studying at Reynolds, the students were informed that the foundation had depleted its funds. Two white families quickly picked up two of the students for sponsorship. One family enrolled one of the female students, Lude, at Averett University in Danville, Virginia. Lude is doing very well and has almost completed her studies there. Berry, one of the male students, was picked up by another family and is about to complete a four year degree at Elizabeth City State University on the coast of North Carolina. He is doing well also. All four have maintained 3.0 averages and above.
Our concern at this time is the well-being of brother and sister Frandy and Suze Prince. They have been on their own for the last year and now are at risk of losing their student visas if they are not able to receive assistance right away. All four of the students were issued student visas in order to come to the US., which means that they must be enrolled in school on a full-time basis. If the students lose their visas, they will have to return to Haiti with dreams and hopes deferred. Frandy and Suze have not been able to acquire sponsorships but did receive some assistance for the last year from a community organization and an attorney and her family. The attorney and the organization made it clear that their resources were temporary. As of August 1st, the two students have been abandoned. The “I Have a Dream” Foundation does not feel any obligation to continue to support Frandy and Suze. The brother and sister have completed their studies at the community college and were informed that as of August 1, 2014, they had no place to live in Richmond.
Thank God, Frandy and Suze were admitted to Johnson C. Smith University for the fall semester. Fortunately, we have been able to assist the two students in acquiring an apartment near the university. JCSU was able to give each of them five thousand dollar for the year which means that we must raise thirteen thousand dollars for each of them for the entire year tuition making it a total of twenty-six thousand dollars in all. We are seeking an additional six thousand dollars for rent which gives us a total need of thirty-two thousand dollars. We know that after this first year, the students will be able to earn full academic scholarships for next year based on their academic performance.
We have not been able to find a family or even a church in our community to sponsor our two students; therefore, we desperately are asking you to assist us in making a tax deductible donation so that these two young people can complete their education and return to their home country prepared to lead Haiti into a future filled with promise, hope and prosperity.
Please mail your donation to:
The Suze and Frandy Scholarship Fund
c/o Mechanics and Farmers Bank
P. O. Box 33594
Charlotte, N.C. 28216
Thank you for your support.
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