Giving Freely

Newsletter issue: 
December 2013
News item date: 
Thursday, December 12, 2013

By Andrew Hyrcza (THP Volunteer)

Philo (senior +1) student Lovely Joseph cleans up the roadside with Netwayaj Deyo.

The bell rings at 3:30 p.m. to end the school day, yet the students of Louverture Cleary School (LCS) continue working.  Most will help clean the campus; others will clear trash in zone (neighborhood)Still others clad in matching white t-shirts head to the back basketball court to tutor zone residents.  In this way, LCS students live out The Haitian Project’s (THP) motto of, “What you receive for free, you must give for free.” (Mt 10:8)

Living this aspect of the Gospel is an essential part of THP’s charism and the formation of LCS students.  Deacon Patrick Moynihan, President of THP and Head of LCS, elaborates on the significance:  “We struggle to find an appropriate word for the capacities that God has given us freely.  The word Gift connotes favoritism.  Talent is laced with the trap of egotism.  Charism suggests crazed spirituality.  Whatever the word use, what is important is to keep in mind is that the capacities given us by God, while they might bring us joy, are first and foremost for the benefit of those around us.  We must always consider our individual liberties within the context of the Gospel principle, to those who are given more, more is expected.”

The (tuition-free) education LCS students receive provides the capacities necessary to improve Haiti through helping others become literate, disposing of waste responsibly, and understanding the value of hard work.

After the bell sounds, a formidable force of 90 LCS students armed with wheelbarrows, shovels, machetes, and rice bags march outside to chants and inspiring words.  Their mission to clear the streets of trash is daunting, but each day they do their part in making the surrounding neighborhood cleaner.

Not only do LCS students help the zone by physically removing trash, they also provide an example to others in hopes that someday they will no longer be needed.  Philo (senior plus one) student Lovely Joseph is committed not only to clearing trash near LCS, but also works with her sister on the weekends to pick up the trash in her family’s zone.  She refers to trash as “my enemy.”

As the Deyo group leaves campus, children and adults from the zone come in for Ekòl Ankouajman (Encouragement School).  Forty Louverturians mentor and tutor 100 students from the zone.  For many participating in the program, this is the only education available to them.

Twasyem (U.S. 10th grade) student and Ekòl Ankouajman teacher, Rafaël Cooper says he enjoys giving his time and knowledge for the benefit of others.  “It helps me understand the difficult position of teachers and to get to know more about the students and their lives.”  With literacy rates in Haiti still below 50%, it is obvious that this service is a necessary one.

Christina Moynihan, LCS Director of Community Outreach, is heavily invested in reaching out to the families in the zone -- especially women and children.  Mrs. Moynihan, founder of Ekòl Ankouajman (Encouragement School) describes its mission as “[allowing] children who are invisible to become visible.”  

Reflecting on student service programs, LCS Principal, Marjorie Mombrun says, “The most important thing I learned since [attending] LCS was to always remember our goal.” THP’s charism permeates the students’ attitudes beyond netwayaj, beyond the school day, and beyond their time as students.  For LCS students and graduates, giving freely is a responsibility and a way of life.