(Open Doorways children playing their new recorders)

 

Earlier this year long-time Beausejour, MB resident and retired schoolteacher Irene Hudek volunteered for a couple of weeks at our orphanage in Haiti.  She was able to share her teaching and music skills with the children, staff and local teachers.  Irene has kindly written about her visit to share with all of us.

 

“When I volunteered for two weeks to teach music and English to the children in Open Doorways Orphanage I had no idea how memorable and rewarding the experience would be.

During the preparation for my trip I embarked on a quest to collect as many materials as I could to assist in this quest. So I begged, borrowed and bought books, pencils, crayons, pencil sharpeners, French CD"s, scissors, rulers, paper, paint, paint brushes, games which I made and had laminated etc.

I photocopied little books designed to help children learn to read with joy and enthusiasm. I soon realized that these little books were very boring since they were just black and white. So, I employed several volunteers who very willingly donated hours to colour the little books.

When I arrived in Haiti I was met by Pastor Gerald who greeted me with the joy and warmth which I would encounter at the orphanage.

When I saw the "classroom" where I would be doing my teaching, I was overwhelmed by its barrenness. I soon began my endeavor to create a "learning environment" by using my faithful glue gun and filling the walls with alphabet picture cards (French and English), a 100 number chart, and each child's name which they had created by tracing the big foam letters found in one of the blue bins sitting unused in the room. I also hung a string all around two sides of the room. We used it to hang the children's artwork.

The children and I soon settled into a routine which included lessons, lots of singing and dancing, math, name printing, reading, colouring, and playing instructional games where they learned the skills of the games as well as turn taking, patience and cooperation. Probably the most popular moments of the classroom experience were when we played the recorders, which had been previously donated, and reading the little books.

This heartwarming and memorable experience was made possible by the generosity of so many volunteers and supporters.  When I am asked if I would do it again I quickly say "yes!".  When I am asked if I will do it again I quickly say "no".   I think I am being called to prepare the next teacher who is willing to educate these very special children in Haiti.”

Kim Semonick, Grades 3-4 Teacher, Gillis School, Tyndall, MB

Sharon Dugard, president and founder of Open Doorways Orphanage, has visited our school in the last few years to speak of her experiences in Haiti.

The students have been very inspired by her and her dream of building an orphanage for children in that country struggling with poverty.

They were moved to hear there are many children without a home, food or even a chance to go to school, all of which many of us take for granted.

With new awareness, Student Council decided to help this charity and began raising funds through sales of cookies and Freezies.

There is nothing more important in the world than making sure children are fed and sheltered.  We thank this organization for their hard work and thrilled Open Doorways is now a reality in Haiti.  We will continue having fundraisers for this wonderful project and happy to be able to contribute in a small way.

Open Doorways has given us the opportunity to learn not only with our minds but also with our hearts.

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