mother tongue books
“Anpil men,chay pa lou.” “With many hands,
the load is not heavy.”
Dear Friends of Matènwa,
We have exciting news to report; it has been a year filled with progress and promise. But first, we send you our sincere thanks for joining hands with us to make it all possible.
Your support and confidence give us the determination to prove every day that children in rural Haiti can learn in the language they all understand, without being hit or humiliated. We are determined to make this model the norm in schools across Haiti.
It has been 15 years since the Matènwa Community Learning Center (MCLC) began as a one-room schoolhouse. Now MCLC provides a preschool to ninth grade education and an arts campus with life giving programs that are shaped with the collaboration of many educators and activists from in and outside of Haiti. Instead of the common image of rote memorization, dictation, corporal punishment, and dictatorial classroom management, one sees hands on materials, critical thinkers, authors, and collaborative leaders for peace and justice.
As we celebrate 15 years, we celebrate you ~ our long-standing and our recent supporters. With many hands, the way forward is made possible.
Progress and Promise: Mother Tongue Books
“If you could only see how the children’s eyes light up when new Mother Tongue Books come to Matènwa. They love these books so much!”
(Writer and MTB mentor, Connie Biewald)
Books written by children for children are beginning to show a child centered way to meet Haiti’s need for reading material written in Creole for elementary school children. It’s literacy, it’s empowerment, it’s real cultural exchange as these trilingual (Creole,
French, and English) books are published and exchanged between Matènwa and US schools.
Early work has been supported by Rotary Clubs: Port Au Prince, Puerto Rico, and Skidaway, Rotary International, the Fayerweather Street School, and the Basic Science Partnership. There is much promise in this growing initiative. We encourage you to join in, through classroom and service learning projects, and through your financial support.
Progress and Promise: In the News
FACES, a world cultures magazine for children ages 9-14, devoted its Fall 2011 issue to Haiti. Among its features were interviews with 11 Matènwa students. Here is a sample interview:
“My name is Chrisla Fleurant. I am 9 years old. I am a fourth grade student at the Matènwa Community School. I live in a family of 10 people. My mother and my father are the ones who work to give us what we need. I love my country very much because it is a beautiful country that has a lot of fresh air, beautiful sun, and nice temperatures. We also have a beautiful culture that has a time for everything and a language that many other nations enjoy,”
Peace and Justice Award
The Peace and Justice Award was given by the City of Cambridge, MA to Chris Low in June 2011 in recognition of her work to build bridges and create community between and among people, crossing divides of neighborhood, ethnicity, gender, race, and class. Family and friends were present to join in the applause!
Schools for Schools Partnerships
Schools for schools Partnerships were started in Puerto Rico thanks to Anna Grimaldi Colomer. The Interact Club working with the Parkville and Commonwealth schools spearheads an annual Heart for Haiti community celebration, which has led to funding of the Matènwa Library. It is one outstanding example of what can be done. We are hoping that other schools and clubs will get involved. Please contact Pam Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org
Progress and Promise: In the Gardens
Across rural Haiti, most families survive by farming small plots of depleted, non-irrigated soil. Little attention is given to improving the knowledge or techniques used by farmers even though such skills determine the very survival of the family. But in Matènwa gardening is an integral part of the curriculum, and the school garden serves as hands-on experience, breakfast food, and a demonstration site. Students and teachers make a wall to stop erosion. Children work together at school and bring these techniques back to their home gardens.
Home Gardens for Ten Families
Thanks to a grant from Pacific Rim Voices, MCLC has initiated a home gardens program. In 2011 ten families each received 2 water drums, 2 gutters with installation, kandelam plants for live fencing of a 10 square meter space, and wire fencing to keep out goats and chickens until the live fencing grows to a secure height and width. Luisine speaks about her garden: “I have already benefitted from my garden. We have eaten from it and sold from it. I live close to the water pump so even though the rains were not coming I walked to the pump and carried buckets of water to my home each day.”
Ten Communities Embrace the Matènwa Model
For more than a decade, MCLC has served as a model for what education might be in rural Haiti – a place that respects the rights of children, offers instruction in Creole, includes both core academic and arts classes, provides teacher training in pedagogy, content, and classroom management, and prepares students as critical thinkers capable of improving their lives in their mountain community. This year, with many thanks for a grant from The Boston Foundation and support from Beyond Borders, MCLC is bringing its model to ten surrounding communities. Our goal is to reach out to schools across Lagonav. How wide an impact we can have depends on your compassion and generosity to support our work.
“Everyone is very motivated to work together. We give a little theory and then go try it. Walter, (one of the Home Gardens beneficiaries) is explaining how organic composting has made his vegetables flourish.” Says Creole Gardens Outreach Coordinator Abner Sauveur.
Progress and Promise: Arts and Music
The MCLC Arts Colony comes to life! Our beehive buildings are providing arts, crafts, and music classes with support from you and the Magpie Giving Circle and from the Hand/Eye Fund.
There is much enthusiasm as the community works to create jobs and income. We need your help to market items for local and international sales.
Progress and Promise: Building Friendships
Last year, teachers asked for educational games. Volunteers brought Bananagrams donated by the company, and other games to play. It worked so well that in July 2012 we will start another exciting experiment.We invite those of you who speak Creole (adults and children), or who can afford a translator, to come share your talents with the Matènwa Community. Matènwa children and adults will express what they would like to learn and we will try to match those interests with volunteers’ desires to teach. Volunteers can come for one to four weeks.
Progress and Promise: With your help!
We began many new initiatives this year. Many children and parents of Matènwa are putting their heart and soul, their mind and strength into working for a brighter tomorrow. Will you join us?
Give alternative gifts for holiday presents:
- *82 cents/day~$25/month will provide books and breakfast for a child for a year.
- *Less than $1/day~$30/month will cover a child’s education for a year.
- * 1.50/day~ $550/year will provide the fencing, tools, and seeds for one home vegetable garden.
- * 200 /month~$2,400/year will support a teacher’s salary.
- *250 /month ~ $3,000/year will support change in one of our surrounding community’s school and garden for a year.
- *Mother Tongue Books ~ create and publish in your classroom; contribute to Matènwa’s MTBs publication initiative.
- *Art and Music ~ help us to market local crafts; come to Matènwa and teach a skill.
Please send your tax-exempt contribution to:Friends of Matènwa P.O. Box 494 Lincoln, MA. 01773
Stay in touch! www.matenwaclc.org
Best wishes to you for the 2012 New Year from all of us in Matènwa!
Bonjou Friends of MCLC,
Music: Our program is really advancing now. Our friend, Owen Thomas, from the US came with a recorder and taught us how to record music. With his help we now have a CD with songs from every class. A group of youth are going to open a recording studio this summer in one of our new local art studio cottages.
Bookstore and book production room: The space is almost done. The walls are done and many of the tables have been made. Our local Mother Tongue Books will be produced and sold here. Many schools here and abroad are planning to produce books next year. We are looking to make this a global collaborative.
Annual Open Space Meeting June 23-26th: This year Millienne, Chrislène, Esther, Samila, Eligene and Tiga represented MCLC. People from all over Haiti, from different economic and educational backgrounds attend this discussion-based meeting. This year’s theme was: What tools and practices do Haitians need to become an agent of change in their communities? Our agriculture teacher, Eligene, brought pictures to illustrate how we integrate agriculture into our curriculum for all students. Those who attended his session were eager to implement this in their schools.
The computer room: The children in fourth grade are continuing to enjoy math games brought by Michel DeGraff for a pilot that we have been participating in this year to analyze what advantages there are to using computers when teaching fourth grade mathematics.
Friends, that’s a few things we have to report for this month. We hope you have enjoyed reading?
Secretary Millienne Angervil and Co-founder Chris Low
LKM collaborators, bonjou! It is always with joy in our hearts that we share some of the activities we have done over the past month.
Since the beginning of May we have been planning lots of things in order to present the best MAY 18th FLAG DAY CELEBRATION ever. All the teachers engaged in beautifying the campus and organizing class presentations. The whole school community paraded up and down the street and then entered the large circle to start our program. In years past several schools would organize parades, but this year we were the only school in these mountains celebrating, so we had many, many guests. Some were singing enthusiastically. All classes were involved, providing theater, songs, and poems.
The elementary students have become more interested in the library. The librarian feels it is because they are enjoying the illustrated fables. The students are even more motivated to write Mother Tongue Books because they are so happy hear that people are interested in reading their work.
The BOOKSTORE has a roof! Construction is almost finished.
We are in our 5th month of Michel DeGraff’s pilot on using computer math games in Creole with our 4th grade class. Teachers have been working with Cuisenaire rods so Michel brought us Cuisenaire rod computer games.
Chris Low in behalf of the MCLC staff.