When God called Tony and me to move to Haiti as missionaries with But God Ministries, He spoke to Tony’s heart saying, “I want to use you to change a generation.” Of course, we had no idea what that meant or how that would happen, but we trusted that eventually He would show us how, when, where, etc. ….and He has!!
It didn’t take long before we started realizing that the schools we began forming a relationship with were the key to “changing a generation!” Of course, it wasn’t easy, but as we began to work closely with the principals of the schools and dream big along with them, we started embracing a vision that God had in mind all along!
These pictures are from our first year working with the two schools known as Mixte Maranatha (Salomon’s school) and Mixte MEBEA (Johel’s school). The walls of Maranatha were sticks and tin. The interior walls were the rickety chalk boards that faced the makeshift desks, creating separate classes. At MEBEA, all but two classes met inside the one big room of the church and two classes were created outside on the back wall of the church, and those two classrooms were made of sticks and tin and the same rickety chalkboards. Very few children could afford uniforms or books. Most couldn’t afford tuition, so the school, in turn, couldn’t afford improvements. They couldn’t even hardly pay their teachers… but the directors, Salomon and Johel, wanted the children of this village who could not afford an education otherwise to be able to attend school. These two schools had a reputation of being the “poor schools,” but they did the best they could with what they had. But God had something bigger in mind…..
God began providing resources for us to use by moving people to give towards our education programs in our village. We started by first helping Salomon pay for books for his students and raising his teachers’ salaries. We began helping Johel’s school by sending all of the new children who had recently moved into the houses BGM built on “the hill” behind Hope Center, and paying a tuition for them. We also gave them uniforms bought from a uniform company in the US and we bought books for his school too. We thanked God for His provision, and we began to pray that God would give us wisdom and provision to grow these schools to something better.
Meanwhile, God had begun to move us to help boost the economy by creating businesses here. One of those businesses was a sewing business. We met Henry, our main tailor, through the birth of his twin boys and our English classes. When it was time to start the sewing business, he began to work with our seamstress Ruth, and they now have a booming business of sewing uniforms and other needs throughout the village. The children began to feel like they were going to a real school because they had new uniforms. They knew they looked good, so they felt good, and they learned more. The schools were one step closer to being REAL schools!
In order to maintain the ability to help children go to school and make improvements, we realized we MUST create a constant income for the schools. There was already a sponsorship program going on up in Thoman, so we asked how that worked, came up with a plan for sponsorship in Galette Chambon and launched it! The response was tremendous!! We were able to begin making plans for increasing enrollment significantly, giving teachers a fair wage, making more capital improvements, etc. But our dream didn’t stop there! It was God’s idea, and our desire, to begin a feeding program in the schools so that children would no longer struggle to learn with empty bellies. We wanted to grow the sponsorship program to a point when every child at the school would get a hot meal every day, including holidays and during the summer! People prayed with us, and they sponsored children, and we waited and prayed for God to bless…. AND HE DID!! We started the feeding program in both schools, and children became healthier and learned better!
Just look at how much some of our children have changed from the beginning of the sponsorship program to today. They are healthy, happy, and educated!!!
Next, God provided the resources to make building improvements! We started by building new classrooms at Maranatha School. God led Great Bridge Baptist Church to raise funds to build four new classrooms on the property! Many teams came and built new desks for the classrooms at Maranatha as well as MEBEA school, and other teams came and painted the new classrooms and the inside and outside of Johel’s church, so that the MEBEA school would be clean and bright for the students to learn! Things were looking brighter!!!
Around the same time that all of these capital improvements started happening, we began focusing on how we could improve the actual education quality in our schools. We prayed for more sponsors so that we could raise the teachers’ salaries and hire much needed support staff in the schools. Because the two elementary schools we sponsor only went to the 6th grade, we realized that we needed to make a way for our sponsor kids to continue on in school, so we started a But God Ministries Secondary School. Now when students graduate from elementary school, they automatically move on into the BGM High School! Each year we have added a new grade to the high school, and this year we are adding the 11th grade! We almost have a complete school system where kids can start out in kindergarten and go all the way to Philo which is a 13th grade that prepares young people for college!
We now employ over 75 people in our schools from administration to teachers to support staff, cooks, and janitors. In the few years that have passed since the program started, we have been able to raise teacher salaries to be competitive with all others schools in Haiti. We have provided teacher training in classroom management, discipline, teaching strategies, and incorporating positive reinforcement and incentives in the classroom. These seminars have been led by teachers from the US on visiting teams, the University of Alabama Education Department, and professors from the University of Haiti Education Department.
When we look back to where we began, it is hard to believe what all has taken place in just six years! From sticks and tin to nice classrooms, desks, uniforms, books, employees, etc. Two years in a row, one of our high schoolers has made the highest score on the national exam over the entire region! We have had two high schoolers make perfect scores on sections of the national exam. Our schools are being recognized and applauded by the Ministry of Education! God is INDEED changing a generation! We have actually been watching a miracle take place.
This year, we are looking forward to BIG changes. But God Ministries has been working with all three schools to form our own SCHOOL SYSTEM. We have asked the high school principal, Moliere, to be our school superintendent; we will have qualified principals at all three schools, secretaries, assistant principals, and all very qualified teachers! We will serve hot meals at all three schools, and all three schools will have students sitting in brand new classrooms. God is so good!! And all of this is being done because God has led people all over the world to sponsor kids in our program.
The funds generated through the BGM Sponsorship program pay tuition for sponsored students, pay for their books, uniform, exams, and initial school supplies. After that, sponsorship funds pay for the individual sponsor child plus two more children in the school to eat a hot meal prepared every day at the school – all year long. Sponsor funds also provide salaries for over 75 employees. That means 75 families in our village now have a steady income to provide for their own children! We are literally watching the miracle of the loaves and fishes taking place here in our village, and it’s all because people have been faithful to sponsor.
In order to continue making these and many other future improvements, we need to find 30 more sponsors for the program. In the coming days, we will be adding more and more children to the website to allow more people to sponsor kids in our schools. We want every sponsor and potential sponsor to know that ALL funds received through this program go 100% back to the schools. There are ZERO “administrative costs” being funded. BGM pours every single penny received back to the schools. And we are committed to keeping it this way. Sponsors have opportunities to write to their children, send gifts to their children, even visit their children if they come to serve at Hope Center in Galette Chambon. There is no other sponsorship program in the world like this.
We desperately need at least 30 more sponsors to make our proposed 2018-2019 budget. We have cut and trimmed all we can, but we can’t make the needed changes without increasing our budget. Will you please consider becoming one of those 30 sponsors that will help us move this system to the next level? Will you please pray and ask God how He can use you? If you don’t necessarily feel led to sponsor a child, but you do want to help the education needs of But God Ministries, you can simply go to our website and give directly to the general education fund at BGM. Make sure you add an additional comment that it is for “Education in Galette Chambon” We invite you to be a part of what God is doing in Galette Chambon, Haiti, to CHANGE A GENERATION!!! Thank you so much for your support!!
~Mickie West, But God Ministries Child Sponsorship Program Administrator