There is a concept in Judaism that has guided my life. Apologies to anyone if I am misinformed. The concept, for want of a better term, is known as Tikkun olam. I think it serves as an aspiration to behave and act constructively and beneficially in all our endeavors. The purpose of these teachings is to help disciples live faithfully in the observance of the commandments. This most consoling teaching that I know has guided me in my attempts to do the right thing. It may not be given that you complete the work but nor are you permitted to abandon it. It has sustained me in many a dark and discouraging moment.
Ms. Bijou Marie Chantal was 17 when I knew her. She graduated proudly from our school in Jeanjean, Haiti and matriculated successfully through the Lycee (High School) in Leogane. I had not seen her for four years when she appeared suddenly on our campus and asked to speak with me. Her request: “I want to enroll in Nursing School at the Hopital Saint Croix,” the school connected to the hospital and operated by the Anglican Diocese of Haiti. I was very familiar with the Nursing School. But, of course, she added, “I have no money to pay the tuition. Will you help me? Can you help me?” For anyone familiar with the sorrows of Haiti, that is a constant refrain which permeates all endeavors and spoils hopes and dreams.
Forging Futures found the tuition, $2,000 for her first year. She offered, “I have seen so much needless death in Haiti. I want to be a nurse so I can lengthen the lives of my friends and neighbors.” Bijou is very smart and thrived in school. Then came the devastating earthquake in 2010 — a massive catastrophe that struck with viciousness at its epicenter, Leogane, Haiti. I have since lost track of Bijou. I have no idea where she is, or sadly, if she is. What I do know is that we have lost contact now for ten years, and I pray she has moved to a safer place in her country. Her experience is far too common. Hopes and dreams hang so tenuously and can be dashed so easily.
We have other hopeful students: Berline Alexis-Fils, Micherlange Agilles, Edwinson Jasmin and many others. We often say: opportunity awaits you. If it does, you are so fortunate. You can see why I am consoled by my favorite teaching: It may not be given that you complete the work but nor are you permitted to abandon it.
Tuition costs for the Nursing School in Leogane is $3,000 per year.
Help support education for students like Bijou. A gift of any amount enables Forging Futures to continue to feed, educate and empower children by maintaining schools and employing teachers in Leogane. Donate now at www.forgingfutures.org/donate.