Jessica Langevin is the project coordinator for the Greta Home and Academy in Haiti.
Mamas and Papas decorate the railings with streamers as little mouths blow up big, red balloons. A celebration is about to begin for 13 of the children graduating at the Greta Academy in Léogâne, Haiti. In just a few minutes, the kindergarten class clothed in suits and dresses will walk across the stage, accept their diplomas, and officially become first graders.
As the ceremony begins, parents, staff, and children take their seats and await the grand procession. The children sing songs, perform dances, and recite poems and scriptures, all in honor of this graduating class.
For these boys and girls and their families, this day symbolizes more than a new grade and school year.
For some, it’s the ability to read when their parents cannot. For others, it’s the first award they have ever received in their young lives. And for a few, it’s an opportunity those before them didn’t have, an open door for education and future success living in Haiti.
Currently in Haiti, 50 percent of primary school aged children aren’t enrolled in school, and one-third of girls over the age of 6 never go to school. For the six girls in this graduating class, it is an accomplishment some of their friends will never have.
One little boy, Woudley, became the star of the program as he recited several poems from memory and sung many children’s songs with his friends on stage. Woudley’s older sister, Roudena, also attends the Greta Academy and completed second grade this year. Both brother and sister live at the Greta Home but were able to spend time with their mother, who attended the graduation ceremony.
As the graduates’ names are called, children and parents beam with an overwhelming sense of pride at their accomplishments. The students’ dedication to hard work is evident as their many accolades are read aloud. These students know the diplomas they hold aren’t simply pieces of paper; they’re the first step on their educational journeys, one that not enough children in Haiti have the privilege of taking. These diplomas symbolize the beginning for our future leaders residing here at the Greta Home.
The day ends with happy hearts and plates full of cake. A lunch reception is held after the ceremony to celebrate the graduates and their families.
The 13 children will now spend the summer visiting family; playing; and learning musical instruments, English, and art. They look forward to the fall as they join their big brothers and sisters in primary school, one year and one class closer to their dreams and a successful future as Christian leaders in Haiti.