On January 23, an exciting new program launched in Haiti:
Lifesong Christian Academy.
After years of praying and planning, this new school program opened, specifically to teach children in Bercy, Haiti, with physical/motor, emotional, social, language, or cognitive challenges.
According to the World Health Organization’s estimates, approximately 15% of the Haitian population lives with a disability. But because of deeply ingrained cultural fears that disability is somehow tied to evil spirits, children with disabilities often face intense discrimination.
Years ago, a teacher in Haiti explained it this way—
“Known colloquially as ‘cocobai,’ a Creole word that roughly translates as ‘worthless’ or ‘disgrace,’ disabled Haitian children are hidden away and completely excluded from mainstream education.”
But we know this doesn’t reflect God’s heart. When God says we are made in His image, He makes no exceptions, and neither should we.
How a lack of understanding has led to harm
We often talk about vulnerable children in Haiti, referring to children who have been exposed to difficult circumstances such as poverty, neglect, mistreatment, and abuse. And that’s certainly true. But there is one category of children that is often left out: kids who are disabled.
Students with disabilities often find themselves rejected and mistreated by the general population. As one of our students with intellectual disabilities recently shared, “I used to be tied up and locked in a room when I was angry.”
Scindie Saint Fleur, Child Psychologist at Lifesong Haiti, explains—
“It’s not that people want to do wrong or harm children with disabilities but rather the lack of knowledge often misleads people to do horrible things they aren’t aware of.“
And so our team in Bercy, Haiti knew it was time to do more. So Lifesong Christian Academy was started on our Bercy campus.
Lifesong Christian Academy exists to reflect the love of God by providing a safe, caring, and inclusive teaching environment and cultivating the pleasure of exploring, discovering, and learning.
What Lifesong Christian Academy teaches
Daily curriculum includes Literacy, Social Manner, Physical Education, Environmental Awareness, Artistic Expression, and Mathematics. Additionally, our team focuses on building skills that these kids will need in their life such self-awareness, self-confidence, group belonging, social skills, speaking, writing, and thinking.
And already the students are thriving.
Our first-grade teacher at Lifesong Christian Academy shared—
“All my heart is in this work. Even when I don’t feel well, I come because I know these kids need me. After the first two weeks, I am amazed at how quickly they are progressing. They are so eager to learn, they participate in all the activities, and their favorite activity is writing.”
Samuel is 17 years old. In his previous school, because of his learning challenges, he was placed at the gate to open doors for people and cars. However, on the inside, he had a deep desire to go to school and learn.
After just two weeks at Lifesong Christian Academy, Samuel learned to write numbers and letters. His favorite activities are writing and drawing, and he can’t hide his happiness about receiving an education like his peers.
His future is brighter than ever, and he knows he is loved by his teachers and the staff at school. Even better, he’s learning that God loves him and has a perfect plan for his life.
*Name changed for protection.
Thank you for your part in this story and for believing with us that all children are made in God’s image and deserve to be reached, loved, and taught.