Updated: Oct 26
Please let me introduce you to a very rare individual in Haiti… Richard Chery. He is a poor, non-urban male who has graduated high school, attended a vocational training program, gotten an apprenticeship and, recently begun a university program to study mechanical engineering.
Just how rare is he? To put this into perspective for you, the overall high school attendance rate in Haiti is 19.6%. Among boys, that number drops to 18%. Among the poorest Haitians that number drops to 2.5%. Once we consider that he has completed post-secondary training and has been accepted into one of the few Haitian universities, the numbers are so low that the government statistics actually list them as 0.0%.
I have known Richard for the last four years. I met him on my second visit to Haiti. He was living in the Mercy village with his family of 9 or 10 siblings. His father is an artisan who crafts souvenirs out of stone to help provide for his family.
To say that Richard has grown up in very difficult circumstances is an understatement. After the earthquake, he and his family lived in a makeshift hovel in a tent city for almost two years. By the time I met him, Richard had graduated high school and was hoping that he could learn to become an auto-mechanic, but he did not have any money for additional schooling.
Our family decided to sponsor Richard and help him enroll in a vocational training program. Richard struggled at first with some of the classes. For those of us who grew up with a relatively good education system, we learn skills that we aren’t even aware that we have—such as how to think abstractly and solve complex problems by breaking them down.
In Haiti, this isn’t the case. Yet, Richard never gave up. He worked hard and successfully graduated from his vocational program in mid-December. I’ve never seen him so proud of an accomplishment.
Here are some of Richard’s own words:
“For many years I’ve worked and studied hard in my school, even though sometimes the times were hard and I’ve known difficult and sad times but I continued and hope until I graduate in high school. It was my first step and after my dream was to become an engineer in mechanic. I know it was difficult and almost impossible because my dad had too much responsibility and I tried for many times to enroll but still fails until Dr. John came in Haiti and I met Nathan Stricker, a friend Dr. John gave me as a sponsor. I still remember this night when I met him and the first word of Dr. John about him, I cried too much!! These men were as the savior, sorry but that’s true!!! Through them and Mercy International I found all I wanted: joy, hope, success…quickly I started learning mechanic with their help and for many years I’ve studied hard until I also graduate. I’ve been apprenticing and gain some practical experience I feel very happy, my dreams become true or almost. I want to fix cars everyday, it’s my passion. The bigger surprise is that I was able to get into university and I’ve been provided with tuition help. University is the last step, the most important. Now I realize that there are going to be costs that I was not aware… transportations, books, tests, food, and other expenses. I want so much to go and finish. Will you please help me?”
Like all of us, there are times that Richard has stumbled. But, every time Richard has faced adversity, I have seen him get up, face up to his problems and work harder to keep going. All of his hard work has paid off. He was able to pass the entrance exams and was accepted into a university-level mechanical engineering program.
Through all of this, Richard has remained very humble. He does not like to be in the limelight. Even as I asked him to share some of his own story, he expressed that it is hard for him to talk about his life and the challenges that he has faced. Richard gives the glory and honor to God for helping him get to where he is today.
He wants to attend the university program, but like university programs even here in the US, there are unanticipated costs additional to his tuition and fees. Richard has no transportation of his own, so in order to get to and from university, he has to use buses and taxis. In each of his classes, the teachers frequently require books to be purchased. Exams have fees and require him to have acceptable clothing in order to sit for them. Aside from that, Richard does not eat very well. He needs nutritious meals in order to help him concentrate and learn.
The university program is a 4-year program. While his tuition is covered, each month, Richard needs about $130 US for all of the above expenses.
Please prayerfully consider whether you might be called to sponsor Richard for $20 or $25 a month. With your help, Richard can defy the odds that are so stacked up against him.
Note: Haiti educational statistics retrieved from http://www.childinfo.org/files/LAC_Haiti.pdf