Once Grace Emmanuel School is out for the day, I choose a couple of students to visit from the school yard. Two second grade boys eagerly tell me they live in Source Matelas, not far from each other. I decide to visit them.
The first home we stop at belongs to the older sister of one of the boys. Their father lives far away with no money to provide; their mother lives in Port au Prince, unable to send him and another brother, who also attends GES, to school where she lives. Their sister says it is not easy to provide for them, as she and her husband already have two children of their own. Due to this, she has previously explored putting them into an orphanage. GES provides their only option for education.
As we leave the home, I feel sad for these students. They don’t have a mother or father to call on, and though their generous sister opened her home to them, it is clear they are a burden. I hope the visit to the second home will be better, but I don’t really expect much.
As we walk up to the road leading to Wood Elsen’s home, his father greets us. I recognize his father as Adelet, a secondary teacher at Grace Emmanuel School, who teaches French grammar and some Creole and Spanish.
It is a distant trek up the hill to their home, but a wonderful view and more of their beautiful family awaits us. Adelet and his wife have four young children. His wife is not home, but he says he will have her come to school one day so I can meet her.
Their children have joy-filled eyes and contagious smiles. As he stands with them at his side, it is evident he loves and cares for them. He shares that they attend a church in another part of the village.
This father is fresh air to my lungs, a brilliant light in the face of darkness. Families with present, providing fathers is a rarity for the students of Grace Emmanuel School. The more homes I visit, it seems the more brokenness I find. However, that is not the case for the tender-spirited Wood Elsen and his siblings.
Though their home is not anything fancy, with tarp walls and uncomfortable beds, they possess something of greater value.
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends…So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
—1 Corinthians 13:7-8a,13