PIKEVILLE – No matter how much the odds are stacked against you, a lot can be accomplished by having faith. That’s what UPIKE junior Kyle Newsome believes. Newsome, along with 13 other students, traveled with Chaplain Rob Musick to Jacmel, Haiti, in early January to finish a project started last year – building a small school and library that will serve 75 children and employ six teachers and a principal.
UPIKE volunteers have been involved with the construction from the ground up, digging footers, carrying blocks and rocks, pouring foundation, raising walls, leveling the ground and assembling the roof.
“Over 200,000 children are not in school right now in Haiti,” said Musick. “In the community that we serve nearly half of the children are not in school. We seek to provide a tuition free or reduced tuition primary education for the children of this community.”
During the trip, Wes Rose, a religion major from Elkhorn City, noticed Haitian children pointing and naming items in Creole, the nation’s native language, and asking for English terms the same way. “The children are very eager to learn and but they are also very eager to teach,” said Rose.
“The goal of building a school in Haiti connects them to us,” said Musick.
“It really connects with the overall mission of our university of improving access to education in rural areas. We have a unique opportunity that is tangible.”
In addition to the building project, students held vacation Bible school for area children and spent their evenings in devotion reflecting on the day’s work. On previous mission trips to Haiti, students helped build a community reservoir, a pastor’s office and an office for community mental health counseling.
“You can see the difference we are making in Haiti and we are starting to scratch the surface of how education can be transformative,” said Musick. “Education is the tool which illuminates a person’s life and it is a key way in which Jesus liberates us from the bondage of poverty, ignorance and illiteracy.”
Once funding is secured to complete the finishing work on the building project, the school may open as soon as this spring.
To learn more about UPIKE’s mission in Haiti, contact Musick at (606) 218-5762 or [email protected]