On Friday, January 18th, a beautiful summer-like day in the Haitian town of Rankit, the first public secondary school building (lycee) ever built in this town of about 20,000 people was officially inaugurated. Many important officials were present, including the town’s mayor, the Deputy (Congressman) for that area, the Ministry of Education’s Supervisor for northern Haiti, representatives of various Minnesota Rotary Clubs and the Pignon (Haiti) Rotary Club, many Haiti Outreach employees, plus hundreds of students and adults of the community.
The Rotary Partnership for Haiti, consisting of many Rotary Clubs who support the community development work of Haiti Outreach, worked with Haiti Outreach for nearly two years and raised the funds for the school. The Rotary Partnership for Haiti includes not only Rotary Clubs in Minnesota and Wisconsin, but Clubs as far away as Pennsylvania, Toronto and Germany. A matching grant from Rotary International and hosted by the Pignon (Haiti) and City of Lakes (Minneapolis) Rotary Clubs also helped to make the school a reality. Attending the inauguration were Rotary District #5950 Governor Bob Stowell, Minneapolis City of Lakes President Christine Taylor and member Olaf Minge, Eden Prairie Noon Club Todd Bollig, and Minneapolis Uptown member and Haiti Outreach Finance Director Dale Snyder. Pignon Club President Obed Theodore and others were also present.
The morning started with a parade from the town center to the school, with students in uniform marching in two outside lines and the various VIP’s in the middle, all being lead by a brass band. The lengthy ceremony included prayers and the singing of hymns, student dance and choir performances, the band playing, a student skit, and many speeches by the VIP’s. The ceremony culminated in the traditional “passing of the keys” – the keys to the various classroom doors. They traveled from the hands of Haiti Outreach employees who managed the construction of the school, to Rotary members, to the Deputy, the Mayor, the school committee responsible for maintaining the school, and eventually to the school’s director.
Many of the speakers expressed gratitude to Rotary members and Haiti Outreach for making this school a reality. The 7 classrooms, one for each secondary grade level, have the capacity for 60 students each. If the demand for the school exceeds that, they are prepared to have two shifts. The school also consists of a large latrine, a well for fresh, clean water, and a two-room administration building. Rotary Governor Stowell said what so many of us were thinking, that we were honored and privileged to be able to make this contribution to the children and future generations of Rankit, while admonishing the students to take advantage of what the school will provide: an opportunity for them and their community to have a better future, IF they do the work of becoming great students. Now, in this town in Haiti , that opportunity has been provided to all students who wish to take advantage of it. Thanks go to everyone who have contributed and worked to make this possible. The people of the community of Rankit are forever grateful!
A finished classroom without the student desks, as they were being used for the audience to sit on during the inauguration.