Monday, September 12, 2011

August Team Visit

We just returned from our trip to Jubilee and visit the school! We were so, so happy to see all the progress that had been made at the school including the addition of 6 new classrooms and 2 (wait for it, wait for it) flushing toilets!! At year one of the school there wasn’t even water!

We were able to match our talented team member’s skill sets to needs at the school, making for a productive week! Lesson plans were created, ideas were shared, classrooms were swept, and lots of hugs were dispensed.

7 wonderful teachers, 2 interns, and interpreters began the school year last week welcoming 100 students and two, all-day first grade classes.  We can’t wait to see how the year unfolds!

Here are a few pictures from our August team….

Lets see...thats 13 team members and backpacks, 600 + lbs of books, and two vehicles...we can squeeezzee!

Sorting Abeka lesson plans in the PreK classroom
Getting ready for P.E.!
Feeding Program ....and a little peaking during the prayer : )

Made new friends with plenty of games that don't require team members to speak Creole

Feeding Program

Translating French
Laura Lynn meeting with mothers of incoming students
Little feet lining up in height order for lunch
Painting a new classroom
Sorting medical supplies for the on-site clinic

Learning to use new P.E. equipment


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Meet a Student...Frandi Dumel


Lives with mom and papa.  Has 3 brothers and 1 sister.  Has no bed.  Sleeps on the ground with his brothers.  He likes to play ball and run.  He likes to learn new things like English.  He likes to eat at school when there is no food at home.

            February 2009, having recently retired, I went with a mission group from First Baptist Church, Brunswick to see something I could not read about in books.

I wanted to see poverty as God sees it.  My assignment was photographer.  I took a photo juxtapositioning the majestic mountains of Haiti with the desperate poverty in the foreground.  Not until I got home did I see the naked child sitting within arm’s reach.  Absorbed in the overall picture, the small detail, God’s heart, sat in front of me naked.   My heart was convicted.  How was I different from the rest of the world if all I did was unknowingly take his picture?  I certainly was not seeing Haiti as God sees it!

            The naked boy became my poster child.  I was compelled to go back to Jubilee Blanc, find the boy and make it right.  Time after time I returned and never found him.  I dubbed him the lost boy representing, in my mind, all those overlooked who deserve to be found.  In retrospect…. on all those trips, I didn’t come prepared with clothing for when I did find him.  I was not a prepared sanctuary.  My heart was convicted.

            Trip #8… there he was!  Still naked!  I think he likes being naked.  It was August 2010 and I was there to start school.  I took that young, naked man by the hand and enrolled him whether he liked it or not!  Wow.  8 trips and 1.5 years.  I still had no clothing for him.

            Trip #9…. His name is Frandi.  I took his picture and interviewed him for sponsorship.   His clothing was, ironically, a torn VBS shirt from summers ago.

            Saturday night, Pastor Emory asked me where I’d like the group to go to church Sunday morning.  I love the native ceremonies. This trip we had learned to play with the community.  Thought process:  we’re doing school, we’re building relationships, and we’re spending leisure time together= we should worship with the people of Jubilee Blanc.  It was a first visit to this particular church by our group.

            The church was perfect.  Dirt floors, homemade decorations, a couple of benches, people singing songs.  Usually we recognize the songs and can sing along in English.  There, probably among 15 people present, sat Frandi!  The enemy took hold and I wondered if this child was really the lost boy or if I just wanted it to be him.  At that very moment, he crossed his legs just like in the picture.  He also had a bald spot on his head like the boy in the picture.  And I wondered…. what were the chances that a lost naked boy from Haiti and a old white woman from GA would cross paths in a remote church with 15 people and a visiting group that just happened to attend that service.  I motioned to him and he came over and rested his head on my side.

            We also pulled all those outside the building in and the pastor told the people to never worry about having the appropriate clothing to wear to church.    How appropriate…. because I still didn’t have any clothing to give Frandi.  All the opportunities – seriously, what was I thinking?  The little lean-to building was rocking with worship.

            All I had was a bandana.  Bandanas are used in Haiti to protect your head, used to give dignity to cancer patients, used by cowboys to protect their faces, used to wipe tears and sweat.  All I had to give the little naked lost boy was a symbol of protection.  The conviction…. if we really want to be a sanctuary, in every level, we need to take being prepared seriously!

            One last thing, on my first trip I was asked to prepare a devotion.  I kept getting that old song from, like the 70s, in my head.  So, I did a devotion on being a sanctuary.  I didn’t know then that it is a song Emory and Mary often sing.  God is good.

- Doreen Sigman

Update:  Frandi is now in school.  His teachers have taught him to speak English!  Among other things, he can now say, “I talk too much!”  He also wears a uniform, usually.  Love.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

In the Great Tumbler of Life, Rock On!

There is a tumbler in Gonaives.  Adam and Kathy need to comment with details of its construction and purpose. Mostly children of the 60s know about these things.  You put rocks in.  They collide with each other for days.  A finished product emerges polished and fit for a jewel.

I'm thinking we're much like the tumbler.  Whoever puts us in the tumbler chooses us.  We go in with rough edges and dirty faces.  We collide with each other, water washes over us, and we come out better fit for a King.

The tumbler encourages me.  Keep that generator pumping!  Rock on!  Selah.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer Update: Looking Ahead to Year 3

Jubilee School was established October 2009 to equip the children of Jubilee Blanc to dream dreams and have the skills needed to make them come true.
As we look to school bells ringing for year 3, it’s a good time to reflect on what we have come to believe about education in Jubilee.  What is going on there?
Foremost, we desire to expose the children to a Christian education aimed to save their souls through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. 
Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you”, declare the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jubilee School strives to bring the children those things which cannot be taken from them:  knowledge to empower them with problem solving skills and life options.    All we do is as if unto the Lord in a spirit of excellence.
Currently, Laura Lynn, Watson, Julie, Tia and April have answered the call on their hearts to lead 100 children and support staff.  Beginning this year with K3, teachers will follow practices backed by research to present Language Arts (English, French, and Creole), Math, Bible, Art, Music and PE.   Several new classrooms are ready.  This year we will have our first two all day classes.  Three persons will share at-home responsibilities this year:  Doreen, Tammy, and Sarah.  We have also added a facebook connection (Jubilee School), a blog (, brochures and a display board to our tool box.  A sponsorship program for our students is being offered by a non-profit organization, Jubilee Kids.
Jubilee School is sustained by the talents and contributions of volunteers.  All materials within the project are carried by visiting missionary groups from the US in suitcases.  This is a massive undertaking evolving into a wonderful community effort.  Watch facebook for connections across the US:  PA, GA, NE, FL, MO, NJ, ME, VA…
You have blessed the school with two new Xerox machines, blocks for the building, and $6,500 worth of curriculum.  Many have prepared VBS opportunities and tutoring.  Last March, the first team of Teacher Trainers worked with 24 Haitian prospective teachers.  Children have conducted read-a-thons, sent books from their book fairs, sold bricks, and gathered supplies.  High school students have collected money, teacher groups have sent money, school paper was specially printed, ladies have sewn pillowcase dresses, and churches have collected backpacks…. Our hope is that the long-awaited container will soon cross the ocean carrying new desks and chairs!  How beyond any of us is all of this?
The beauty is like a disco ball reflecting each of us as we add our own special light.  Each is essential.  In that it is true that we each bring a piece of ourselves to contribute,  each of our little 12 year investments will a be so much more than a sum total limited by our own skills or preferences.  They will be that and more.  Solid educational practices enriched by all of you along the way.
Here we are, Lord.  Let’s do it again!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Copper Beech

This week I spoke with Lisa Michael who has graciously spearheaded efforts at Copper Beech Elementary School to support the Jubilee School. While this post may seem most relevant to fundraising efforts, I think it also has a heart.
Following the earthquake, Jennifer from the For This One organization met and presented to the Copper Beech PTA. As a result of that presentation, the school was able to "adopt" the Jubilee School. The fruits of this informal partnership  have been countless supplies and funding for our school. The heartening component is that we believe this partnership to be a two way street. While we are blessed beyond measure to have their support, we hope that the children at Copper Beech are in turn learning some invaluable lessons about education, volunteerism, and love through their continued efforts.
Doesn't it amaze you how a few people can set something so big into motion? How one parent or one teacher could introduce a lesson at school and from that seed help a child or community in ways we may never understand or see. Wow, just wow!

Copper Beech's latest fundraiser....the "buy a brick" program. Donated paper bricks are helping our new school walls grow in Jubilee!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Donations are on the move!

As Doreen says....if you have traveled to Haiti, then you know what a 50 lb suitcase feels like. We are blessed to have wonderful donors who provide us with supplies and equipment to take to the school each and every trip we take. However, a suitcase carrying books and crayons can reach 50 lbs pretty quick!
We have so many fabulous books and heavy equipment that we sadly have to sort and keep in our storage room to wait for the next go round. Enter a giant container.....

We are pleased as punch to announce that we were given access to space on a container bound for Haiti! The container, which will travel by sea to its final destination, contains valuable supplies and new kindergarten desks and chairs.

Below are some pictures of us packing and readying boxes for their long journey. Look how many! So exciting!

Doreen showing off her packing tape skills

Labeling our boxes to be inspection by customs with love (please be ok with our paper cutter!)

Joyce and Melissa packing reading books

Our prayer request is that the container arrives in good condition and has no problems passing through customs and into the hands of those waiting in Haiti. Fingers crossed that the container beats our August trip so we can use the supplies and furniture to ready the school for the 2011-2012 school year!

- sfc

Thursday, May 5, 2011

In light of last week's storms throughout the Southeast, we would like to extend a special thank you to the Rise School  in Tuscaloosa, Alabama for their support of the Jubilee School. The Rise School offers early childhood education for young children with physical and developmental disabilities and their typically developing peers.
In 2010, Rise School social worker Lauren Humber organized a school wide drive that would benefit the school and the community of Gonavies. The school generously raised nearly 100 lbs of baby supplies, children's shoes and underwear, and new and gently used children's clothing.
We were so blessed by the outpouring of support that the school offered those in need and we can only hope that the same love and support is offered to them as they face the challenges that lie ahead.
- Sarah Frances