Graduation is a blessing at Haiti’s Sonlight Academy

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By Tim Hillman,

Rising Sun Editor

Graduation time is here in the United States but it has been celebrated in Haiti.

For those who don’t know me, when somebody asked you what is your passion.

My answer is simple – Haiti.

Specifically, Sonlight Academy in Port-de-Paix Haiti for the graduation of 16 Haitian students and 14 Bible College students. That marked the end of 14 years for students who started in pre-school then kindergarten and move their way up (sometimes kept behind if needed).

By first grade they have learned English, their native language Creole and soon into French (often a struggle as the country’s second official language).

There are limited preschool (30-35) with over 300 in the school. They could expand but would need more adjacent land owned by a Florida man.

On Sunday, May 17th, we (Karen Lovern, Bobbie Hastings, Jennifer Rowell and myself) were at the Christian-based school which is immersed in English.

It was started in 1983 when Roger and Norma Alexander planted the seed.

While this was my 15th trip to Sonlight, it finally hit me what the seed planting is all about.

I learned in a devotion that there are heirloom seeds and hybrid seeds.

The Alexanders are the definition of an heirloom seed.

Of their children: One is principal of the school and adopted a Haitian; another is a graduate, married a Haitian and has translated Bibles into Creole; another became a preacher then moved his family there to head the Bible College; another married and brought an Angel (Mark Angel) to Rising Sun; another married a missionary teacher; and another stays in Evansville to make sure things run right.

A hybrid seed is me.

I visit annually and talk to many of the same people, especially on the streets, but each year it’s like starting over again.

The heirloom seed is like our farmers of today. They go through tough times but bounce back. At Sonlight that means dealing with local government issues.

With each trip, we are blessed much more. This time we witnessed six baptisms, five fifth graders and a Sonlight graduate.

That’s the goal. Win souls to Christ.

Many of Sonlight graduates have gone on to college in the states, many to Kentucky Christian University in Grayson, Kentucky.

Many of the teachers are Kentucky fans. However this year, a couple of Hoosier fans moved in, had a baby midyear and returned to close out the year.

At graduation time, there is work to be done helping teachers get packed for the summer, helping with grades and experiencing young people.

Sonlight makes sure to give us tours of the community including a visit to the House of Hope orphanage and to a local farm.

Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. The average family income is $2 a day.

Children live in many different type homes but all look alike when they come to school in their blue and white uniforms.

My first trip was in 1999 when a large group went to put up a water tower for the school. In 2003, a new multi-purpose building was started on the ocean shore. It was completed in 2012 and is designed like the Family Life Center at the Rising Sun Church of Christ.

Missionaries and students need support.

If interested, there is a $45 a month donation that can be sent to sponsor a child or teacher. If you would like to hear more about Sonlight, let me know. Contact me at (812) 438-2963. If wanting to make donation and learn more visit Sonlight Ministries on the web.