NLH’s base of operations in Haiti is located in Marfranc, one of the larger villages in the Grand-Anse River Valley. Marfranc is one of several villages that lie along the north banks of the river, all linked together by a winding road.
“This side of the river is the more populous area,” explained Fran Leeman, Director of New Life for Haiti. “Across the river you have smaller villages.”
During past trips to Haiti, New Life for Haiti teams walked through a broad valley many times on their way to-and-from various projects. They didn’t know what the area was named but became somewhat familiar with its terrain.
“I’ve always been taken by that valley”, confessed Director Leeman. He told Vilex Plaisir, the young Haitian man who serves as the organization’s administrator in Haiti, that he wanted to further explore the area.
The prominent feature of the valley is a small river and its tributary streams. Although it has no proper villages, the valley does have many hills and hollows that are dotted with houses. This means that the area has a decent concentration of people. Upon further exploration of the valley, Leeman and other NLH members have learned its name. It is called Rivye Mawo. The name is taken directly from the Rivye Mawo itself, which is the small river that runs through the valley before joining the Grand-Anse River.
Director Fran Leeman meets with people in Rivye Mawo
Encouraged by their enthusiasm, he told the small group to spread the world. He asked for everybody in the community who wanted a school to come back the next day for a meeting. At five the following day, close to 100 people gathered for the meeting.
They commented, “We don’t have a school. We have a terrible need.”
They explained that not only did they not have a school, they really had no formal institution within the community. Most of their children didn’t go to school because they couldn’t afford it or they could not cross the river during the rainy season. This made schooling unreliable for students in their area. Director Leeman reiterated to the group their need to invest in the school through time and volunteer labor. He also explained the need to buy the land at a decent price.
“We don’t expect people to give up their land for free, but we do need a good price,” assured Director Leeman.
Land for the model school in Rivye Mawo
“I’m thoroughly convinced that we’ve been divinely taken to the right place—the place with the most need, and therefore the most willingness, on the part of the adult community to really engage,” reflected Director Leeman.
“We’re excited because this is a community that has nothing. Once we have this school launched and running, they will have literally the best school in the whole of the Grande’Anse province. I’m very excited about that and about having a place where teachers, school directors, and pastors can say, ‘This is what great education looks like.’ And if they fall in love with it, then we’ll help them do it in their village too.”