On a hot and windy June day that will not soon be forgotten, 9 men and 6 women became Grace Emmanuel School’s first ever graduating class.
It was a glorious day to celebrate the hard work of the students—and God’s faithfulness. An “apex” day, or as another graduate described it—”a great joy that overflows in my heart.”
To try to summarize this joy in words is a daunting task. There are 100 triumphant stories to tell that would beautifully attest to His faithfulness. The perseverance of staff, the generosity of sponsors, the encouragement of friends and family—for each graduate, there have been countless people who contributed in some small way to make this day possible.
These students have faced untold obstacles in their lives, from deaths of parents to living in orphanages, from motorcycle accidents to life-threatening illnesses.
There are 1,000 reasons why none of these 15 students should have graduated. Like many of their peers, any of them could have found an excuse to quit and not persevere in their education.
Yet on June 21, 15 students stood before friends and family in cap and gown and were recognized for this crowning and rare achievement in Haiti.
Their gratitude for the many people who had sown into them to arrive at this day was expressed in an extended speech from the class president, Steevenson. He thanked everyone from the bus driver, to the cooks, to parents, to the director of the school, to teachers, to sponsors, the Board of JiHM, and so on.
Perhaps the most beautiful moment of the whole ceremony was at the end, when the class sang a song about their friendships and how they will last forever. The tempo quickly gained speed as the graduates began to dance, jump up and down, and hug each other. It was impossible to watch and not well up with joy.
When the ceremony was over, families and friends rushed to the front, eager to congratulate and take pictures with their graduate.
We look forward to seeing what the next chapter will bring for these 15 young men and women. Most have expressed a desire to continue their education in college or at a trade school, and we pray that is a possibility for them. (JiHM intends to award scholarships to two of the graduates—find out more.)
We leave you with expressions of gratitude taken from the final letters written by the graduates to their sponsors. THANK YOU to all of you who have been on this journey with Grace Emmanuel School these last 13 years. This is a victory to rejoice in. Praise Him from whom all blessings flow!
Words from the graduates
“I will always thank you because you chose to give me help without discouragement. I feel very proud because my dream has already come true. With a happy heart, I’m very proud to say I loved this school.” —Linda
“I tell God thanks because He put you on my path to help me… It is one of the biggest dreams I had to finish school and that gives me much pleasure… I love studying very much and I will continue to work until all my dreams are realized. I’m very, very happy. I thank you so much for responding to my need. May God bless you.” —Steevenson
“I’m very proud because it was the biggest desire of my heart to finish my studies… I rejoiced this whole school year because despite problems that came, God took care of me so I could arrive at this day.” —Saphira
“It is a great joy that overflows in my heart when I see my dream come true… I will spend the rest of my life rejoicing because of your support to this day. If you hadn’t helped me, I would never have made it to Philo. May God bless you for the support you gave me.” —Habacuc
“I really love this school because it played an important role in my life. It was here I learned how to live and understood many things about life! I remember everything of Grace Emmanuel School from 2nd grade to Philo! I’m very happy because I was very happy at Grace Emmanuel School.” —Manita
“I’m very, very happy for this year in school. It was a very good year for me. Now I am done. I am going to do all I hope in my life. I am going to enter university so I can become a great leader in communication science. I thank you very much for all you did for me. Thank you because you were there for me to help me finish school completely. Thank you so much. I feel very proud because I’ve realized my dream. All my dreams were to finish school. Wow. I feel so very proud.” —Disson
For more photos from the graduation ceremony, view the graduation album on JiHM’s Facebook page, or watch portions of the ceremony that were streamed live (Part 1 | Part 2).