Some children walk for up to an hour to get to school here in the outlying areas around Jean Rabel where the RJM Sisters have established 6 pre-schools and 2 primary schools.
School begins at 8.00 a.m. and continues till 12.00 for the pre-schoolers and 1.00 p.m. for the primary school children.
They come to pre-school from the age of 3 doing a three-year cycle before moving onto ‘fundamental’ or primary school.
These little tots walk long distances often with no food to eat before setting out on their journeys; families often depend on the issue of a meal of rice for school children to sustain their children on a daily basis. After school these same children must trek that long journey home again over rocky and often muddy and wet terrain these days, but the excitement they feel on seeing us arrive by car along the route is magnificent to behold as they wave and smile and chorus their salute.
Their joy and enthusiasm was contagious this morning as Maxim stopped to pick up a group of these delightful tots who had about a mile left to walk. They clambered onto the back seat, sitting beside and on top of each other to ensure their place. Their little faces shined over at me and I knew I would have to vacate my seat to make room for them. I moved onto the front seat, which Sr. Rose had just vacated at Gros Sable, taking two children with me.
Then Maxim opened the back of the car to let the rest of the group in. We must have had about 20 ‘timoun’ (Krèyol for children, meaning ‘little people’) in total and there wasn’t a murmur of complaint about not having enough space, being squashed or poked among them. They were delighted to have the ride to school in the company of their friends – a rare occurrence for them! Their glee brought a real sense of occasion to the morning and great pleasure to those looking on.